Fortnite brings out the ten-year-old fort builder in all of us

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Fortnite: Battle Royale hasn’t quite grabbed me. While the game is at least accurately named, the gunplay—originally designed to let players mow down hordes of mostly mindless AI bots—isn’t as suited for culling other human players in a Battle Royale mode. Developer Epic Games seems to know this and is tirelessly tuning the overnight smash hit’s bullet burping. And while 3.4 million concurrent players (as of February) don’t seem dissuaded by this continued fine-tuning, I still feel like the gameplay isn’t quite up to snuff.

Yet I still can’t stop thinking about the game. That’s partly because it’s seemingly the biggest game on the planet—hot on the heels of the extremely similar, previously biggest game on the planet, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. But it’s not just that. Fortnite appeals to me, personally, because it does more than remind me of my past. It gives me glimpses into an alternate present.

An engineer deferred

There was a time, long before I even cared about video games (much less wrote about them), when I seemed fated to become some kind of engineer. That was how my parents saw my future, anyway; the two farmers-turned-bankers didn’t have many positive things to say about career prospects that didn’t involve a lot of math. So my creative endeavors (mostly drawing, back then) always led to a response like, “Yeah, that would make a good hobby.”

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