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You may find your teenagers parked in front of the computer or staring at their phones for long hours during weekends and school holidays.

Chances are, they’re playing a game called Fortnite, which, in the last six months, has taken the gaming world by storm.

Get to know the latest online gaming phenomenon.

What’s the game about?

What’s the game about?
Wikimedia

In this post-apocalyptic world, 98 per cent of the human population has been killed off, leaving behind zombie-like creatures.

You, one of the remaining 2 per cent, start the game by being dropped off a flying school bus onto an island where you have to scavenge for resources and weapons to defend yourself against other players.

In basic mode, you don’t get to choose your character, which can be of any gender or race.

There are 100 players in every match and the goal is to be the last person standing.

You can pair up or form teams if you want.

As the game progresses, the grounds get smaller so all remaining players are forced to eventually converge at a specific area to battle it out.

So, it’s like the new Minecraft?

So, it’s like the new Minecraft?
Max Pixel

Only insofar as both games allow you to mine for resources and build forts.

It has been described, though, as a cross between Minecraft and the Hunger Games.

Why is it so popular?

Why is it so popular?
Epic Games

The game has garnered an estimated 60 million downloads (and counting) worldwide, thanks to its free-to-play Battle Royale option on various platforms, such as consoles, PC and mobile phones.

In-app purchases can get you new outfits and accessories.

There’s also a paid Save the World version.

At any given time, an estimated 3.4 million users are playing the game. Developer Epic Games has said it is likely the most popular PC/console game in the world.

You may find your teenagers parked in front of the computer or staring at their phones for long hours during weekends and school holidays.

Chances are, they’re playing a game called Fortnite, which, in the last six months, has taken the gaming world by storm.

Get to know the latest online gaming phenomenon.

Is it safe for kids?

Is it safe for kids?
Epic Games

The game is rated 12 years and older, but its popularity means that it’s likely kids younger than that are playing.

Although the goal is to kill off other characters, the deaths aren’t gory as the setup is rather cartoonish.

Parents will likely be more concerned about the social aspect of the game.

The audio and text chat features are completely unmoderated, so your kids could end up chatting with strangers from virtually anywhere in the world.

The UK National Crime Agency recently issued a warning that the game puts children at risk from online predators because of this.

So, if you wish to take back some measure of control, be sure to mute the chat function in the game’s settings.

Video games don’t have to be all bad or scary. In fact, they do have several benefits, such as improved visual skills and a sharper mind.

What’s important is for parents to exercise some common-sense rules.

One way to do so is to play the game yourself to see if it’s something you want your kids to dabble in, or better yet, play along with your kids and teach them about safe online practices along the way.

Okay, you’ve convinced me to give it a try. Got any tips?

Okay, you’ve convinced me to give it a try. Got any tips?
Wikipedia

Sure, here’s a useful one to avoid dying in the first few seconds – as soon as you land, find a weapon, any weapon, to fight with in case someone else has landed nearby.

But don’t engage unless you have to. Good luck!

So who should I watch out for?

So who should I watch out for?
Wikipedia

Gaming personality Ninja, or Tyler Blevins as he is known to his mum, is rumoured to earn over $US500,000 per month simply from streaming his Fortnite matches.

Ali-A (Alastair Aiken) is another Fortnite celebrity and has over 12 million followers on YouTube.

Aussie Muselk, otherwise named Elliott Watkins, as a Sydney-based Fortnite player known for his Fortnite videos on YouTube.

It sounds fun, but it must be hard work grinding through all those computer games to make an honest living and a career as a professional computer game player is not that weird. There are much weirder professions.

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– The Reader’s Digest team