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“Can I play FORTNITE tonight?”

I’ve just been asked this for the umpteenth time.

So have a lot of other parents. They reckon there are often over 3 million people playing Fortnite at any one time.

It’s not hard to see why the game is such a phenomenon, particularly Battle Royale. Think of all the needs it meets.

At its centre, it’s really simple. Last-man-standing.

But then there are the different takes on that.

It’s a fight to the death. You get the chance to win, to be the #1 Victory Royale.

It’s also you against the world. 100 people play at a time, so there are 99 others out to get you. But everyone starts in the same state, with just an axe in their hand.

There is a whole lot to learn. You have to hunt for better weapons. You need to collect materials to build forts to protect yourself. It’s as much a survival game as a killing one.

And you have to master the controls, whether you’re on an Xbox, iPad or PC. You quickly learn it’s easier on a large TV screen. There’s a better sense of where the other players are and what they’re doing.

You don’t have to rampage around. You can be a hider. If you see someone, you can run for cover in the buildings or bushes. You’re not going to win that way, but you could make the last 20.

And you don’t have to play on your own. You can play Duo or form a squad, generally with 3 others. There’s a 50 v 50 option if you want to put your life in the hands of 49 strangers. Or a 20 v 20 v 20 v 20 v 20.

Whichever you choose, though, you get to feel part of something big, not just in the game but outside it too. You’re in with the chat.

And it’s all free. The smartest thing Epic did was to give the game away.

It isn’t free, of course. You’ll need an Xbox Live Gold or Playstation Plus subscription if you want to play that way. There are also the dual temptations of skins and ‘emotes’, the crazy dance moves that give the game its sense of humour.

Oh, and one last thing. You get to be like Harry Kane. Apparently, as he and the rest of the England team kill time in a Repino hotel, Fortnite is their killing game of choice.

So from a players’ point of view, every base is covered. It’s the whole way round the need wheel.

But what about from a parent’s perspective?

What about addiction? If you try and stop a child mid-game, they want to turn their gun on you.

And safety? Fortnite features text chat which can’t be turned off. So that could be anyone sending those messages, if they manage to become a ‘friend’.

And the whole killing thing? I’ve heard Fortnite described as ‘Call of Duty for kids’.

But then again, can you really stop children from playing shooting games? They’ll do it with their finger if that’s all they have.

And at least they’re doing something mentally active rather than passively watching TV.

And they’re in control of their own destiny.

And they’re at home. So yes, you’ve got to watch it, but you know where they are.

And they can play with their friends. They learn to work as a team, to have each other’s backs.

And it teaches them strategy.

And it’s fun.

And it’s free.

“Oh alright, you can play tonight. Then can I have a go?”

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