I Play Fortnite Because I Actually Like Talking on the Phone
I’m good at e-mail, but only if it’s work e-mail. I have hundreds of unread Facebook messages because I refuse to download the Messenger app. I am an egregious texter, to the point where multiple friends have lectured me about leaving them on read. And because I am not 1,000 years old, I barely ever talk on the phone.
Want to get at me? Play Fortnite, which is what I’m often doing on a weekend. I play with a rotating cast of friends, chit-chatting away on our headsets as if we were on a group call, just catching up on each other’s lives.
The funny thing is that my enjoyment of Fortnite has little to do with the game itself. The last-man-standing Battle Royale setup is compelling, if not a bit tired; the shooting mechanics are janky as hell, and don’t get me started on building. No, for me, the appeal of Fortnite is partly that it’s free, and therefore, any of my PlayStation-owning friends can get into it; but mostly, I love that Fortnite is very boring. You collect guns and gather resources across a big map. You spend most of your time walking, which means there’s lots of downtime to, y’know, talk.
Conversations tend to go like this:
“My week’s been pretty good. Work has lightened up a little bit because it’s summer. My wife and I are talking about getting a dog. It seems like a big step, but we already have a cat, so I can’t imagine GUY ON YOUR LEFT WAIT THERE ARE TWO OF THEM LET’S FLANK THEM FLUSH THEM OUT WITH A GRENADE WOW GREAT SHOT THERE’S ONE MORE HE’S BEHIND THE HOUSE SHOOT HIM BIJAN WHY ARE YOU RUNNING AWAY SHOOT HIM YESSSSS WE KNOCKED ’EM GREAT JOB so as I was saying, a dog would be a really big comitment, but I think we’re ready?”
To the credit of Epic Games, Fortnite’s developer, the game has markedly improved in terms of performance, and each update seems invested in adding more goofy stuff that you and your friends can mess around with. One of my favorite newish features is Playground mode, which lets you and just three pals fuck around with an abundance of high-powered weapons and sped-up resource accumulating, allowing you to have low-stakes firefights wherever and whenever you want. I think it’s the best way to play Fortnite if you just want to play video games casually and socially.
And as I get older, that’s all I really want: to talk on the phone and keep up with my friends’ lives and maybe, occasionally, help someone make a major life decision, like whether they should get a dog or a cat. Adulthood is all about being there for the people who matter to you, which means checking in on them, asking them how their week was, then telling them to hop in your golf cart so you can ride it through a portal together and hurtle yourselves into the sky.