If you want to find passion in our household, you can’t really go past a pre-teen boy and his gaming. The word obsession is probably going a bit too far, but certainly gaming would take up a major part of his waking thoughts (and maybe some of his dreams too). His current game of choice is Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-to-play shoot-em-up which is taking the gaming world by storm. Only released in September of last year, this game has already reached the point of having over 3 million players simultaneously. That’s more than 3 million people all over the world playing the same game at the same time. That’s pretty hectic.
A Battle Royale is a genre of game where, starting with a group of players, the goal is to be the last person standing, after killing off all the others. Some people might recognise the name from the Japanese movie from 2000 called Battle Royale, or you might know the concept from the Hunger Games franchise which came out later. In Fortnite Battle Royale, 100 people jump out of a flying bus (as you do…) onto an island with various areas and town, where you must collect weapons, equipment and materials and survive any encounters with other players. A storm front forces players into an ever tightening safe area meaning you can’t just hide out somewhere until everyone else has picked each other off. You can also quickly build structures to provide cover, get a height advantage or get out of tricky situations.
It’s true that I have had my own forays into gaming. There was a time in 1999 when The Sims nearly ruined my relationship with my now husband when we only had one computer. But I have mostly been about strategy and puzzles rather than combat and the level of sophistication of console games controllers these days has certainly gotten away from me. If you had asked me a year ago why I gave up so quickly on the game Dead Island, which my husband bought for me knowing my interest in zombies, I’d have said that I wasn’t good at those kinds of fast-paced, aim-and-shoot games and I didn’t have very good hand/eye coordination. However, this year I’ve been trying to encourage in my kids a growth mindset and I think it’s time to try to practice what I preach.
Carol Dweck coined the phrases ‘growth mindset’ and ‘fixed mindset’ to explain the way people approach learning and deal with disappointment. To have a fixed mindset is to think that you have a set amount of intelligence or talent and so you are ‘good at something’ or ‘bad at something’ which tends to take away your motivation to try. By saying “I am bad at math” it gives you the perfect excuse to avoid helping your kid with their homework, to get a colleague to take over a project or to use a calculator at all times. Alternatively, having a growth mindset means that you can always get better at something by working harder at it. Through effort, dedication and learning you can increase intelligence and improve your abilities. Students with a growth mindset are more likely to challenge themselves rather than take the easy option. So rather than praise my kids by telling them “You’re good at that”, I’ve been trying to praise their perseverance, their effort, their creativity and their problem-solving. A great animated video explaining more can be found on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yl9TVbAal5s
So, when a popular Youtuber who specialises in playing Fortnite (yes, that’s right, he just posts videos about playing Fortnite) showed a video where he tried to teach his mother to play, my son got really excited about showing me. My first thought was to shut him down with my usual excuses but then I rethought that. Here’s a great opportunity to show him that I can have a growth mindset as well. So I’ve asked him to teach me. We haven’t had a chance to get into it properly yet (and it’s now the end of the month) but next month my goal will be to learn to play Fortnite Battle Royale. I don’t think I’m going to be the ultimate winner anytime soon (my son is super-frustrated that he hasn’t made it there yet, his best so far is 3rd which I think is an awesome achievement) but maybe I can at least start with a more realistic goal. So you’re just going to have to wait for next month to see how I go. Wish me luck! Or “may the odds be ever in your favour”.