‘Fortnite’ Is Jira for Children

Welcome to the ‘enterprisification’ of games

Simon Pitt
OneZero
Published in
9 min readMay 22, 2020

--

Photo: Joshua Hoehne/Unsplash

On Wednesdays, I play Fortnite. It’s me (Dr_Trout), RobotHowells, TwoShots, and SigmoidFiend. There’s a story behind each gamertag. “It’s Robot, like Robert. But Robot because it’s a video game,” Rob says, “which I guess is like a robot.” SigmoidFiend receives a lot of praise for her tag. “Actually,” she says, sheepishly, “Xbox Live just kind of suggested it to me.” Still, we declare it an excellent choice. TwoShots tells us his comes from that time he accidentally played the sound of a gun twice when doing backstage effects for a play. Mine is a name I used as a child that I’ve hung onto for sentimental reasons. We all refer to our gamertags with the self-conscious awkwardness of adults in their thirties.

For those not familiar, Fortnite is an online video game where you shoot people until there’s no one left to shoot. We call these sorts of games “battle royales” after the 2000 Japanese film in which a group of schoolchildren are forced to fight to the death. Despite these gruesome origins, Fortnite is light and cartoony, populated with characters like a humanoid banana, a giant gingerbread man, and a weight-lifting cat called Meowscles.

At the start of each game, 100 players parachute down to an island and compete to be the final survivor. Meanwhile, a circle surrounds the players and gradually closes in, forcing everyone together for a final showdown. You can think of it as a sort of digital version of The Hunger Games.

Fortnite is free to play. Epic, the developers, make money by selling dance moves, loading screens, and characters. These purchases are entirely for show and confer no benefits to players. In an era of pay-to-win loot boxes, where the richest and luckiest spend their way to success by buying the best equipment (rather like the real world), Fortnite is refreshingly different. An innocent island where you can floss dance, fish for rusty cans, and shoot each other in the head with heavy-duty sniper rifles.

I should say at this point that we are not very good at Fortnite. When we start today, TwoShots lands on a pylon without any way to get down and has no choice but to jump to his death. Later, I find myself mysteriously taking damage. RobotHowells comes to help and starts…

--

--

Simon Pitt
OneZero

Media techie, software person, and web-stuff doer. Head of Corporate Digital at BBC, but views my own. More at pittster.co.uk