Steven R. April 5, 2019
Lots of celebrities are big fans of Fortnite, but Prince Harry is not among that lot.
Speaking at a YMCA event in London, the British royal railed against social media and video games. Discussing Fortnite in particular, he stated the game was causing strain on families and labeled it addicting.
“That game shouldn't be allowed. Where is the benefit of having it in your household,” the prince asked, per BBC. “It's created to addict, an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It's so irresponsible...It's like waiting for the damage to be done and kids turning up on your doorsteps and families being broken down."
Since the release of Fortnite’s battle royale mode in 2017, the game’s player base has ballooned into the hundreds of millions and has become a legitimate pop culture sensation. This has helped publisher Epic Games reestablish itself as one of the most influential companies in the video game industry, but it has also made the game a lightning rod for criticism.
The topic of video game addiction has popped up many times over the years, often resurfacing when a game reaches intense mainstream visibility. Games such as EverQuest, World of Warcraft, and FarmVille have all been discussed as possibly addictive during their lifespans.
Despite video game addiction being revisited many times by the mainstream media, the medical community has not yet found it to exist. In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association stated there was insufficient evidence to officially recognize video game addiction as a mental disorder. However, “Internet Gaming Disorder” was labeled as a condition that warranted further study, though it is unclear if it is a condition unto itself or a manifestation of other disorders.
A common denominator with games labeled as addicting is rewarding time played. Though not all accused games fit that bill, Fortnite players are rewarded for their time investment more than most. Grinding for battle pass levels is the only way to unlock many of the game’s most cherished skins, requiring completionists to sink hours upon hours into the title.
Though Harry’s discussion of the game likely came off the cuff, video games and Fortnite in particular are facing serious scrutiny in England. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is currently doing an inquiry into technology addiction and is looking to speak with Epic Games specifically.
“We have invited Epic Games...to give evidence to our investigation, which is examining the addictive nature of gaming, as well as links between gaming and gambling,” committee chairman Damian Collins said. “We hope that Epic will accept our invitation. We will certainly raise with them the significant concerns that Prince Harry has expressed about Fortnite, and how they respond to his call for it to be banned."
The results of the inquiry are set to be delivered later this year.