Parents are responsible for monitoring kids’ gaming time, experts say

Concerns over addiction to video games such as Fortnite among young people are "inevitable" but parents must also take responsibility for their children’s gaming habits, an industry expert has said.

In the week where popular battle royale game Fortnite launched on the Nintendo Switch to fanfare, parents have raised concerns over the amount of time some children are spending playing the last-one-standing game.

But speaking at E3, the leading video games convention in Los Angeles where Fornite is among the games on show, industry analyst Piers Harding-Rolls from IHS Markit said developers were being considerate of younger players.

"Inevitably with popular games which are a hit with younger gamers, these concerns are raised," he said.

"The fact is Fortnite is hugely popular with male tweens and teenagers and its strong penetration means it is being played a lot as a result.

"However, Fortnite is not exploitative of its players, does not employ loot boxes and monetises through cosmetic items.

"I think (Fortnite maker) Epic Games are cognisant of their audience and those considerations have been employed when designing the game.

Like any activity, moderation is the key and a major part of the responsibility of managing time spent gaming must rest with the parents or guardians."

The popularity of battle royale games was underlined by new figures from Nintendo, which said on Wednesday that in the first day of Fortnite being available on the Switch it had been downloaded more than two million times.

James Thompson, the chief executive of UK games developer Automation and currently building 1,000-player battle royale game Mavericks Proving Grounds, said his team was building the game with wellbeing in mind.

"Mavericks is a very modern MMO (massively multiplayer online game) – we’ve learnt a lot of lessons because we have a lot of people on the team who have worked on traditional MMOs.

"A lot of the content in the game is driven around this last-man-standing battle and that is something that happens over a session, so there’s a very clear point at which you can say ‘cool, I’m done with a session’ and have a good break point and I think that’s incredibly important.

Mr Thompson said the game, which will also include social and exploration hubs, had enough choice to encourage responsible gaming.

"Because we offer both of those options, I think people will be more sensible in terms of how they manage their time. I think that will help a lot with the younger demographic."

The debate has not stopped thousands of Fortnite fans visiting the game’s booth at E3 to play the game and take part in online tournaments.

The three-day gaming convention is expected to draw more than 60,000 attendees and also features the latest games in the Call Of Duty, Fifa football and Tomb Raider series.

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