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Millions are playing it, but is Fortnite addiction really a thing?

Is Fortnite addiction real?

Put a parent, a psychologist and a brain expert in the same room and you'll get three different answers.

Fortnite: Battle Royale is a multi-player shooter game where the last one standing wins.

There's no dispute that it is popular: 125 million people around the world are playing it.

Driving that popularity is the fact it's free, it can be played on nearly any device, and it's social. Players talk to each other during a battle.

The parent: 'He's definitely addicted'

Riley Holzinger playing Fortnite

Eleven-year-old Riley Holzinger plays Fortnite every day and says he wouldn't cope if it was taken away.

"I'd probably game rage, like smash stuff and then get sad," he said.

"If Mum and Dad weren't around, I'd play Fortnite 24/7."

He says he once went four weeks without playing, but his Mum, Angie Holzinger, later tells us it was only three days — the longest three days of his life.

"He's definitely addicted," she said.

"I could see this aggression starting to form, he started being rude and I was, like, oh my God, this game is going to drive me mad!

"Since Fortnite's been around, there's no skateboarding, no scooter, he just loves to be in that room all hours and if he could stay awake he would."

Ms Holzinger is trying to use the game as a bargaining chip, making Riley earn time on it by eating dinner with the family and doing his homework.

The psychologist: 'It's worse than other games'

Psychologist, Brad Marshall. Interviewed by 7.30, July 2018

Brad Marshall runs the Internet Addiction Clinic at Kidspace in Sydney and says most of the children he sees are playing Fortnite.

"We're seeing about 60-70 per cent of the kids coming through the door reporting that Fortnite is their primary game of use," he told 7.30.

"Some kids are struggling to get to sleep, that means going to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning, for other kids it'll be falling behind in homework, or not handing in assignments.

"We've also seen quite a lot of anger outbursts at home."

Mr Marshall says Fortnite is more addictive than other gaming fads before it because of its easy availability.

He runs popular seminars for parents on how to wean children off the game.

These are his three top tips:

  • Set reasonable boundaries around internet usage
  • Emphasise things like homework and sport before going on the internet
  • Sleep. Turn off the internet or unplug the modem at night

The brain specialist: Addiction is more complex

Professor Murat Yucel, Interviewed by 7.30, July 2018

The World Health Organisation has recognised gaming disorder as a medical condition, but Professor Murat Yucel says playing Fortnite a lot doesn't necessarily equate with an addiction.

"It's not just a matter of time spent on a game, there are psychological aspects where someone is dependent on it, they're not enjoying it anymore, they're just doing it for the sake of doing it," he said.

Professir Yucel is a clinical neuropsychologist at Monash University and specialises in addictions.

He says games like Fortnite are designed to exploit the brain's vulnerabilities in the same way poker machines do.

"One of the things we're very much attracted to are rewards, and these games are so rich with potential," he said..

"For example, you might have a small win and there's a celebratory sound that comes through, or a small win and you can unlock an option or get a new skin."

These small victories trigger a dopamine burst in the brain's reward system that trigger the habit system.

"It will say you should keep going because there's mastery, social status or winning to be gained," he said.

Original Article

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