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Why You Should Teach With Fortnite Battle Royale

What's going on everyone?

Fortnite came out back in 2017 and it literally took the world by storm. What originally started out as a mildly popular tower defense game transitioned into a battle royal game that became one of the most played games in the world. There is without a doubt at least one student in your room playing Fortnite: Battle Royale. For those unfamiliar, a battle royale is a somewhat new genre of online video game where a set number of people are dropped on a map (in Fortnite's case an island), and fight to the death; last one standing wins. What sets Fortnite apart from its contemporaries was its unique building mechanics. The game is a shooter at its core, but each player can also harvest materials and construct buildings as a form of travel or defense. The game is also free to play. The game's fun and unique mechanics, in combination with being free and available on most devices, sets it up to be one of the most popular games ever made.

One fun aspect of the battle royal mode is that the map is always changing. This allows the developers to constantly create new set pieces for players to explore. An interesting aspect of the many locations on the island is that they all tell their own stories through their environment. While there is no explicit text that tells you exactly what happened, a player can explore different areas and put together a story of what transpired or what usually happens in this location. For this activity students will choose one region of the island to land in and begin observing and searching for context clues as to what events unfolded in that area. What is the purpose of this location? Who lives in or utilizes this location? What events happened at this location? Students will write their own short story using all of the information they have gathered from the game's map. You can find my lesson plan for Fornite: Battle Royale here.

To expand further, Fortnite changes as each season in the game comes to an end. A season in Fortnite usually lasts a couple of months where your goal is to earn experience to unlock all of the new items and character skins made available. Each season has a unique theme that is reflected both in the geography of the map and the many characters you come into contact with. One of my favorite themes was completely dedicated to the many Marvel superheroes as they took on the supervillain Galactus. The current seasons has a focus on alien invasions with guest appearances from many different aliens in pop culture- including my all time favorite: Superman! Over the past three years, Fortnite has included crossovers with many different movie franchises, comics, sports teams, and musical artists. Your students are bound to be familiar with some of these many crossovers. These crossovers can provide a cool starting points for your students' writing.

The core gameplay in Fortnite Battle Royale is a fight until the last player is standing, with up to 100 players in each round. Games can be played solo, but players can also play in squads of two to four players. There is also a team rumble mode that is a more traditional team death-match where two teams fight until they reach a certain number of kills. Fortnite Battle Royale has also created a larger narrative that is exhibited through constant changes in the game map. These changes can be subtle during a season, but bigger changes are often associated with the start and end of a new season. These include new island themes and new in game locations. In-game locations are often now accompanied by in-game NPCs that add to the overall lore of the game.

Players can enter the Battle Royale map by entering the Battle Lab mode. Battle Lab is usually used to let players create their own matches and rules, but it works really well for this activity. If you play a normal game of Battle Royale then you will be in a game with up to 100 other players. Entering Battle Lab will let the player enter the island alone. This will allow them to explore areas on the map undeterred. Students will use the Battle lab map to create stories based on the island’s environment. I would have students drop to five different locations of their choosing.

While at each location, students can take notes responding to the following prompts.

  • Type of buildings, homes, vehicles, machinery, etc.

  • Any type of job that is done here?

  • Are there any NPCs (non-player characters) here? What can you learn or infer about them?

  • Does it look like any event transpired here?

  • What happened to the people here?

  • What is to be found inside the buildings, or homes?

Afterwards, they can write a short story based on a single location, or they can write a short story mixing and matching all of their locations. Students who are familiar with the game can also choose to incorporate the canon in-game narrative as well. Students who have never touched the game before can write about something entirely new. It's an accessible activity for everyone regardless of how familiar they are with the game. A benefit to using Fortnite is that it is one of the most easily accessible games out there. Almost every device plays this game. I almost always advocate to play games together as a class, but if students have phones or consoles capable of playing it, then they should be encouraged to do so if that is their preference.

Fortnite: Battle Royale is a popular game for a reason and it just might help get your students excited about writing.

Thanks for reading,


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