As U of I students, we tend to develop some pretty bad habits to deal with the oftentimes debilitating stress associated with our coursework. Many turn to binge drinking and nicotine, and still others find themselves gravitating toward making memes and even eating laundry detergent pods. While I myself have juggled many vices over the years, I cannot think of one that has been more reckless than my addiction to the online multiplayer video game Fortnite.
Generally, gamers fit into one of two categories: 1.) 12-year-olds who have yet to discover the beauty of pornography, but allegedly have banged your mother hundreds of times, or 2.) Adult virgins whose diet is almost exclusively made up of Mountain Dew, Cool Ranch Doritos, said pornography, and an unhealthy obsession with My Little Pony. However, every once in a while, a game comes around that blurs these rigid dichotomous boundaries. Take Xanax for an example; a drug once used solely to cope with panic attacks has deviated into the drug of choice for everyone from frequent ravegoers to SoundCloud rappers and suburban soccer moms. In terms of addiction, I argue that Fortnite is the product of a three-way orgy between steroids, Xanax, and black tar heroin.
My story begins at the dawn of fall semester. My buddy told me about this new game where you could play against hundreds of other people online in a variety of different game modes. I was hesitant at first, as it all sounded like a giant waste of time and would undoubtedly get in the way of my 32-week-long bender and bang sesh. But then he told me that it was free so I ought to just give it a try. See, with most drugs, only the first one’s free, but the danger of Fortnite is that it’s always free. It was like giving crack to a baby; I was instantly hooked and began to spiral out of control.
I started playing a few games with frustrating results; I initially had a kill-death ratio reminiscent of the stormtroopers in Star Wars. But after a grueling month of playing, I finally garnished my first victory. The euphoria I felt in that moment was unparalleled by anything else I had experienced in life– my first kiss, graduating from high school, and playing catch with my dad were miniscule when compared to this accolade. I sent a Snapchat of the victory to the boys, but after the praise subsided, I felt a bitter emptiness. I needed more.
In the subsequent weeks, I was playing the game during my scheduled class times, which, to be fair, wasn’t too alarming since I don’t think I’ve had a perfect week of attendance for classes since freshman year. However, I knew it was a problem when I started staying in from nights out to play Fortnite. Monday Night Lion was replaced with 12 hours of Battle Royale, and even my beloved KAM’s Clafties was no match for the Save the World game mode. At first, I was still casually boozing while playing the game, but I’ve become so deadset on getting the dub every time that I’ve been sober for two months now. It’s pathetic.
I do not wish for your pity, your adoration, or even your money. Instead, I am hoping to spread awareness about the dangers of Fortnite. If a loved one begins to or has already expressed interest in the game, I implore you to consider setting up an intervention. Hell, maybe even blackmail them. Do whatever it takes to keep them away from this soul-sucking game.
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