Is Fortnite Destroying City High?

Rhys Holman, Reporter

In January 2018, Fortnite had over 45 million players and it’s only continuing to grow. Released July 25, 2017 by Epic Games, Fortnite has grown to be one of the most popular games of the decade. With its immense popularity, especially with teens, it raises the question of how it could affect students in school.

“I would say I watch Fortnite five to six class periods per day,” said Matt Taylor ‘20.  “That typically amounts to four or five hours of watching Fortnite in school every day.”

The main form of distraction in school comes from students watching other people play Fortnite on streaming websites like Twitch or Youtube. This sort of behavior is not uncommon in students and has presented a large distraction. Despite this, students feel the blame shouldn’t be put on them.

“I watch Fortnite because class is really boring,” said Thomas McMillan ‘20. “It isn’t the fault of the teachers, it’s just that the content they teach is boring so Fortnite is something to do that’s more interesting than school.”

But despite feeling justified in how they use their time, this distraction in class has impacted the academics of some students who allow Fortnite to consume their time.

“It has led to me not completing my work a couple times,” said McMillan. “I usually finish it but it’s usually at a very late hour or the day it’s due.  But once in a while I end up not finishing it.”

Though Fortnite has been detrimental to some students, it hasn’t had as serious of an effect on many classes.

“I would say I see at least two or three students that watch it consistently in my classes,” said Spanish teacher Jordan Garrett. “I would say it hasn’t changed that much in class besides a student once in a while watching it.”

Though it’s had arguably negative effects in class, some think that Fortnite has changed City High in a positive way in outside of class.

“I believe Fortnite has created a new culture at City that’s a change for the good,” said Taylor. “It’s something everyone can enjoy and participate in.  The game is free and multi platform so it really brings people together and doesn’t exclude anybody.”

Though it may connect those at City High more, there’s still the issue of it distracting students in class. Many have theorized that in order to attempt to fix it City may ban websites that host Fortnite from the school wifi. However, students are skeptical as to how much that would actually change.

“Banning websites like Twitch wouldn’t solve anything,” said Taylor. “There are always things like VPNs and cellular data which will render the ban useless. It’s like with Snapchat. Blocking Snapchat from the school wifi didn’t stop people from using it during school. People will always find a way to beat the system.”

And it’s not only students that are skeptical about the effectiveness of strategies like this, it’s teachers too.

“There’s usually a way around it and once one student finds a way around it everyone knows the way around it and after that the ban would no longer do anything,” said Garrett.

Even if such a ban weren’t circumvented, some think it wouldn’t solve the root of the issue causing students to be distracted in class.

“If students weren’t distracted by Fortnite there would be something else to distract them from class, even if it’s just their phone,” said Quincy Ott ‘20. “Fortnite itself isn’t what’s causing the problem, it’s just the most popular recent example of what students are doing while they’re distracted.”

Despite this teachers have taken steps to attempt to limit how much Fortnite distracts students in class.

“I make it clear that electronics shouldn’t be used in class,” said Garrett. “I try to make the point at the beginning of class that, unless we’re using Chromebooks or cell phones for an activity, that you have to put it away and I enforce that whenever I see anyone using electronics during class.”

This sort of approach resonates with what students believe would achieve a  reduction in class distractions while maintaining positive relationships with teachers.

“I think teachers need to monitor students more closely so that they aren’t watching it during class like what teachers currently do with cell phone usage in general,” said Ott.  “That approach has been effective in my classes while also not creating resentment between teachers and students.”

Though Fortnite has led to some students disengaging in classes, some teachers are instead trying to use Fortnite’s popularity as a way to enrich the school, instead of letting it deteriorate from class.

“Sometimes I bring it up in class for examples or just for fun.  It’s something that students like to do so I use it to engage them,” said Garrett. “I try to use it as something we can connect over rather than something that divides us.”