Since the release of the game Fortnite last July, it’s become hands-down the most popular online game of its kind. And while its cult-like following has produced some viral sensations ⏤ and certainly rubbed a few teachers the wrong way ⏤ up to this point, the Fortnite obsession has proven no more damaging than any other previous gaming phenomenon. Until now, of course. Two parents in Britain are seeking professional help for their daughter’s Fortnite addiction after she elected to sit in a puddle of her own urine rather than put the game down.
According to a report from The Mirror, everything seemed normal when the girl’s parents purchased her an Xbox One for Christmas of last year. Once their 9-year-old daughter downloaded Fortnite, however, her grades in school began to suffer. “We got called in by her head teacher asking if everything was okay. She had fallen asleep twice in lessons and her grades were slipping,” her mother said before noting her daughter’s odd tone. “When we asked our daughter what the problem was, she became unusually argumentative and aggressive, which we just put down to her hormones.”
Naturally, her parents responded by limiting the time she spent playing the free game to one hour on weekdays and two on weekends, but things got worse ⏤ the girl started showing signs of addiction. Not only did they find their daughter soaked on the couch in her own pee, the parents also started noticing irregular charges on their credit card. It turns out, the girl had been secretly spending up to 10 hours a night playing the game and was using the card to purchase in-game extras. After confronting her about the charges and taking her Xbox away, she got violent, reportedly striking her father in the face. It was at that point that the family elected to call a professional.
“Over the last two months I’ve been contacted by dozens of parents with children as young as eight showing signs of addiction to Fortnite,” Steve Pope, the therapist working with the young girl, told The Mirror. “I’ve been working in this field for three decades and never seen anything like it, how widespread and potentially damaging this is.”
Pope fears that the recent string of celebrity endorsements and hype around Fortnite is going to push more kids into playing as well. Not only that, but professional gamers are making hundreds of thousands of dollars live-streaming their Fortnite matches for kids to watch obsessively. The online gaming industry is booming but more and more kids are getting caught in its clutches.