Fortnite, or correctly spelled: Fortnight. That deliciously English word which means a unit of time of two weeks; ergo, fourteen nights. No doubt my first acquaintance with this word was in Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice: “I honour your circumspection. A fortnight’s acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight.” I’d add to Jane’s observation, and wager to say that one cannot know what a man really is even by the end of a score or two.
Other English writers have toyed with this verbal antiquity.
“Depend upon it, Sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” Dr. Johnson
“I can’t see that she could have found anything nastier to say if she’d thought it out with both hands for a fortnight.” Dorothy Sayers
And even our friendly American humorist, Mark Twain, dropped an f-bomb…
“We have been housekeeping a fortnight, now long enough to have learned how to pronounce the servants’ names, but not how to spell them. We shan’t ever learn to spell them; they were invented in Hungary and Poland, and on paper they look like the alphabet out on a drunk.”
I think my kids feel pretty smart now that they know the meaning of this interesting word, but they didn’t stumble upon this word from reading the classics or from their vocabulary lists or even chatting with their English buddies. No….they know what the real fortnight means because of the current bane of my existence: Fortnite, the Video Game.
The first indiction of the Fentanes Video Game Experience began harmlessly with Duck Hunt, but before I could even reload, we were running the hallowed hills of Halo, partnering with the precious Pikachu in Pokemon, dodging desperadoes in Call of Duty, meticulously making maps in Minecraft, learning harmony and happiness in Harvest Moon, seriously slugging siblings while playing Super Smash Brothers, liberating the princess as Link in The Legend of Zelda, and the winner of them all, spending hundreds of dollars for air time for the World of Warcraft. WOW, really? Video Games 1; Mom 0. Game over, Mom, acquiesces to video game reality.
Before the second indiction began not too long ago, video game playing had subsided to a few hours of Pokemon and Harvest Moon. But, recently, a new phenomenon took over my household: Fortnite. The only good thing about Fortnite is that it doesn’t cost any money, at least not my money. That’s all.
My son and I watched Psycho last weekend. Still don’t really like that movie, but you’ve got to hand it to Janet Leigh and her ability to produce blood-curdling screams. The selfsame screams are uttered by my daughter during Fortnite. You’d think she was being stabbed in the shower. I’ve watched them play, all they are doing is running and shooting up some people every once in awhile. I leave the room and then the blood-curdling screams begin, the frantic orders to comrades to “Watch out, watch out!!!” “He’s behind you.” Followed by more blood-curdling screams. To add to this mayhem, unnamed female offspring wears a headset, which causes her to amplify her responses to the game. Hence, mother stomping into the living room at 10:30 p.m., and yelling “quit screaming” which, of course, she does not hear because of said headset. I don’t know why the expression on my face doesn’t cause her to scream.
Fortnite is the latest craze of video games. I’ve about had it. About a fortnight ago, I ran into my upstairs neighbor. I’ve been meaning to apologize for the Psycho-like screaming, and wanted to reassure them that I was not harming anyone in anyway. The neighbor kindly responded, “No, I don’t hear anything. Do you hear us when we play Fortnite?” “No…, I don’t, the insulation must be good,” I bemused. “Thanks.”
In the three decades of my child-rearing experience, I have come to appreciate video games and the entertainment they provide my children. I remember fondly the years of Halo and Super Smash Brothers because those are the years all my kids were together as well as many of their friends. Video games were one of many things they had in common with their friends, friends they still have, one who has become a family member. Now that the aforementioned unnamed female offspring has been working for about a fortnight, we’ll see if she continues to give her time to this game.
I admit I have no halo as a mom, but my call of duty is to raise kids, and part of that responsibility is to pick the battles in this battlefield, a battle royale. I am happy to report that none has yet been arrested for grand theft auto or any other felony that I know of, and though the fallout has been minimal in permitting extensive video game playing, I am grateful they don’t overwatch them. I consider my kids to be in a league of legends, and hope someday, they will triumph in the trenches of life.