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Fortnite players that took it to the extreme

Popular entertainment is often blamed for society's woes, and gaming tends to take the brunt of that opinion from mainstream culture. Violent video games are regularly scapegoated by politicians and parent groups for being a cause in school shootings, and Dungeons & Dragons even had to fight off claims (and a terrible Tom Hanks movie!) that it was luring children into Satanic rituals.

These trends naturally lead us to Fortnite, a game that has taken over mainstream culture like few video games ever have. There are some pretty wild stories about players in Fortnite who have taken their love for the game far beyond what most of us would consider "normal." Today, we'll be taking a look at some real world incidents that have spilled out of Fortnite and into the real world.

Just like those old warnings about letting your kids play Dungeons & Dragons, take some of these with a grain of salt. That said, there are some pretty wild things happening out there due to Epic's silly little game.

Fortnite is breaking up marriages

One of the earliest stereotypes about video gamers was that they were more interested in their gaming than girls, because of course, girls didn't play video games in this version of the world. Unfortunately, Fortnite may be such an addictive game that it is partially bringing that stereotype to life. Fortune writes the game is a "relationship killer."

That claim is actually backed up by statistics. Divorce Online, a UK-based company that studies divorce cases to look for trends and patterns, claims Fortnite has entered the realm of more traditional addictions as being cited in filings for divorce. A company spokesman writes that divorces often claim problems like "addiction to drugs, alcohol, and gambling have often been cited as reasons for relationship breakdowns, but the dawn of the digital revolution has introduced new addictions."

He continues by saying, "[Divorce Online] has received 200 divorce petitions since Jan. 1, 2018, where addiction to Fortnite and other online games has been cited as one of the reasons for divorce." That article was written in September, equating to almost one divorce filing per day citing Fortnite. That means about five percent of all divorce filings the company handled in 2018 placed partial blame on gaming and Fortnite. That's just divorce; who knows how many breakups the game as caused?

It is sending players to rehab

For many gamers, video games are an escape, a distraction, a way to blow off a little steam and relax after a day at work or school. However, some experts have seen dangerous trends in the design of games like Fortnite. Due to the way the game affects the chemicals in the brain, experts have likened it to hard drug use, and many parents are concerned with how much time their kids are spending playing the game.

VGR writes that experts fear the brain's release of dopamine in a game like Fortnite can mimic the way that drugs like heroin alter brain chemistry. This is especially dangerous in young children, whose brains are still developing and often don't have the self-control to notice there is an issue.

Game Rant featured a story on a nine-year-old girl who would play Fortnite for up to ten hours per day. She would forego bathroom breaks, preferring to wet herself rather than step away from gaming, and even attacked her father when he tried to limit the amount of time she was spending on her Xbox. It got so bad that her parents sought out psychological help for their daughter, and therapist Steve Pope writes that they are not the only parents he has worked with whose children are showing signs of Fortnite addiction.

Grown men have issued death threats to children

Fortnite isn't just a phenomenon with children; it has seemingly permeated every age group and every demographic out there. This can lead to a lot of positives, but it can also cause some serious problems when trash talk and rivalries get out of hand. Luckily, the adults in the room should be able to shrug things off when a kid beats them or talks a bit of trash, right?

Right? Hello ...?

Of course not! The desire to snag that elusive Victory Royale is so strong that it can supercede all common sense and decent decorum. Just take the incident of Michael Aliperti, a New York resident and Fortnite fan. Aliperti was taken into custody by police in September of 2018 for making death threats against another player in Fortnite. He reportedly sent the player text and voice messages over Xbox Live, threatening to come to the player's house with a gun.

The Independent writes that one such message read "I am going to find you with a gun. You dead. I will come to your house tonight and f**k your world up."

Aliperti is 45 years old. The rival he was threatening was an eleven-year-old boy. Police also report that Aliperti claimed to know what school the child went to, prompting them to take action.

Players have cheated so badly that Epic Games has taken them to court

Most online-heavy games feature a terms of service agreement that forbids players from cheating in competitive matches. That often does little to deter people, as popular games constantly have to battle with cheaters and hackers in their quest to keep the playing field level. Epic Games has even taken some cheaters to court for breaking those terms of service in Fortnite, but some of their decisions in the matter have raised some eyebrows.

One prominent example comes from Epic's lawsuit against a fourteen-year-old boy. The boy's mother took issue with Epic targeting her son for two main reasons: first, he only downloaded and used cheats, rather than altering the game's source code himself; second, they released his full name, despite the fact that he is a minor.

Epic cites that the main reason the boy is being targeted with the lawsuit is because he also made YouTube videos showing other players where to download the cheats and how to effectively enable them in games of Fortnite. They repeatedly issued takedown orders for the boy's videos, and he would upload new videos every time.

Don't you miss the days when people committed crimes and didn't tell everyone about it?

It may be contributing to injuries of professional athletes

Typically, you would think that big name athletes would get hurt while participating in their profession. But professional baseball doesn't always work that way. Players have injured themselves sleepwalking (well, sleep-running from spiders) through glass, fixing drones, and pitcher Jeremy Affeldt infamously ended a season after slicing his hand open trying to separate frozen hamburger patties.

Chalk another one up to the "baseball is weird" category: Boston Red Sox ace David Price's pitching game went downhill because he, allegedly, developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome-esque symptoms from the amount of time he spent playing Fortnite.

Although Price's manager, Alex Cora, denies that Fortnite had anything to do with Price's condition, Price still announced publicly that he was done playing Fortnite because of the distraction the story was causing. After all, he and his teammates reported that they would often stay up for hours after a game competing in the shooter, and could often "lose track of time" when they were playing. And hey, maybe there was something to it: the Red Sox went on to win the World Series.

Players steal their parents' money to buy skins

This is one of those "grain of salt" ones we talked about. YouTube "prank culture" is always one to watch out for, so the truth of these claims are dubious at best. However, there are enough reports out there of kids running up massive charges on their parents' credit cards to make this one plausible.

Fortnite's microtransactions are purely cosmetic, not offering competitive advantages. The social media culture that so many kids navigate has caused an influx in "Watch me prank my parents by spending all their money in Fortnite" videos on YouTube. Kotaku analyzed the commonalities of the videos, including the way they are titled, their pacing, and their thumbnail, all designed to maximize viewership.

One of the content creators Kotaku spoke with, Tommy Ladd, admitted that his videos were staged, and his dad encourages his dreams to become a YouTuber. However, he seemed to recognize that many video creators may not realize that, and might actually be stealing money from their parents for laughs and views.

Player trash-talking has shut down schools

Like talking about bombs on an airplane, making threats against schools is one of those "Don't care how much you were joking" things that is going to bring police attention. And, of course, those types of threats have come up during heated trash-talking exchanges during Fortnite matches.

In July of 2018, an eleven-year-old boy in San Jose, California was taken into police custody after several parents reported that he made threats against his school in an online Fortnite match. His elementary school was placed on lockdown and parents were notified about the threat. No police action was taken after police spoke with the boy.

Another incident occurred in Oceanside, California in September of the same year. In this incident, the player was actually playing with fellow classmates and informed them that he was going to bring a weapon to their prep school and hurt other students. These players reported him, and police notified parents and took the boy into custody. No weapons were recovered from his home, and school returned to normal operation.

The mobile version of the game is making it near impossible to teach

It was one thing when Fortnite was confined to PCs and consoles; teens were still obsessed with it, but it had not yet infiltrated every aspect of pop culture. That all changed when the mobile version of the shooter released. Once Fortnite arrived on smartphones, the saturation was complete. Schools have long battled with holding students' attention, and Epic Games' mobile version of Fortnite is dominating that battle.

Teachers are miffed that students are shirking work and staring at their mobile phones. Kotaku writes that is isn't just teachers complaining about the problem, either: students readily recognize the effect the game is having on the school day. There is seemingly no way that education can compete with the dopamine-drive of an intense Fortnite match.

Teachers are confiscating phones and sending warning letters to parents, and Epic Games even added a loading screen instructing students not to play during class. That would work great, except for the fact that students probably can't read anymore: they're apparently skipping that lesson to squad up.

Pedophiles have used Fortnite to lure children

This one is pretty darn dark. It also sounds too sensational to be true, but there are plenty of arrests reported by police involving pedophiles taking to video games like Fortnite in an attempt to groom underage players.

A New Jersey news outlet reports that police ran an undercover sting, posing as children in Fortnite matches. The officers would play the game as normal and see if anyone would approach them with illicit offers. Ultimately, twenty-four arrests were made as a result of the investigation, including an arrest of a 47-year-old police sergeant named Richard Conte. And New Jersey is not the only place incidents like this have occured.

Another arrest was made in Georgia, after a Pennsylvania man drove over 700 miles in an attempt to meet up with a thirteen-year-old boy he had been speaking with in Fortnite voice chat. The boy told his mother and police intercepted Gregory Mancini, a former coach at an all-boys preparatory academy.

Players braved natural disasters to try to snag an elusive victory

There are some headshaking moments included on this list, but few can top this one: players have risked life and limb in the face of deadly natural disasters in order to try to win matches of Fortnite. In April of 2018, a tornado rolled through Greensboro, North Carolina. A local news station caught up with a teenager who was trapped in his home during the storm, and he seemed much more concerned with winning his Fortnite match than the deadly storm around him.

The station interviewed Anton Williams in front of an upside-down truck, and he told the reporter that he was focused on his match as the storm raged around him. As houses were torn apart around him, he told the reporter: "I sit back down because I only have a couple people left in my game, and I was going to try to finish the game, but then it started getting worse and I started to see the power lines come down, so I told my sister and my nephew to come to the bathroom."

Once his sibling and cousin were safe, he continued to strive for victory. Kotaku reports that Williams did not win his match, and that he was "hoping everybody was OK around me."

It has turned its biggest players into millionaires

It can be difficult to figure out exactly how much money professional video game players make, especially since many of them make it by streaming on Twitch. However, we can determine an estimate for some streamers out there, and the highest-paid individuals prove that there is HUGE money to be made in the world of video game streaming. Just look at the face of Fortnite, Tyler "Ninja" Blevins.

Ninja has spilled out of the video game community and into the mainstream seemingly out of nowhere. He was the first pro streamer to appear on the cover of ESPN Magazine. He appeared on Ellen to try to teach her the finer points of fragging. On top of that, he makes a boatload of money.

Forbes concluded that, in March of 2018, Ninja was making $560,000 per month off of his Twitch subscriptions alone. That does not include donations and cheers he receives, sponsorships, YouTube advertising revenue, or appearance fees. And his star has only continued to shine brighter. There is no doubt that Ninja is worth millions of dollars at this point. Tell that to the "You're wasting your time on those vidya games!" crowd.

Police officers have used Fortnite to bond with teenagers in trouble

Not all of these stories feature terrible crimes and people completely losing their cool over a video game. Just most of them. But, sometimes, Fortnite can forge bonds in unlikely places. Since the game is popular among so many different demographics, it can bring people together who might otherwise never have had anything in common. Take, for instance, the story of Queensland police officer Luke Southgate.

Southgate is a constable in Queensland, Australia who regularly plays Fortnite to unwind after a shift. The police were called to help with a young boy who was going through some serious mental health issues, and they were unable to communicate in any meaningful way with him — until the topic of Fortnite came up.

Southgate says that he and the boy were able to talk about their experiences playing Fortnite, which made the boy much more willing to cooperate with police and open up. Southgate also reports that, the next time he saw the boy, his eyes lit up and he feels that, due to the connection they forged, the boy will have a positive outlook on the police. See? It's not all bad.

And now, back to the bad stuff.