My nephew, Tyler, is seated on the sofa in the living room, playing Fortnite on the 65-inch screen ultra-4K television. Not playing hard enough, if you ask me.
Also, I find it tough to take someone seriously when their on-screen avatar is some kind of banana-human hybrid.
“Three million dollars,” I remind him. “Can you win it?” Tyler says something about ladders and new seasons.
Problem is, it’s likely too late for Tyler. He’s 17, heading into his senior year at Flagler-Palm Coast High school, and has too much of a life to devote the hours to Fortnite required to achieve elite, $3 million-earning skill level (besides, he dilutes his training time with games like “For Honor” and “War Thunder,” games in which I don’t think anyone has ever won $3 million).
The kid is a starting defensive end for the FPC football team and is one of their main powerlifters. Powerlifting is a high school sport in Florida, during what passes for winter down there.
Tyler has also already signed up to enter the Air Force after graduation next summer. But his career goal is to be a drone pilot. Maybe the Air Force will encourage him to hone his video game skills.
So I figure I need to pin my hopes on my brother’s other two kids; Landon, 12, and Chandler, 11. They’re still young enough, and have the time to get really good at Fortnite.
“Mom doesn’t let us play enough to get that good,” Landon points out. Bet that kid who won $3 million playing Fortnite doesn’t have a mother who restricted his playing time.
“I’m not good at Fortnite,” Chandler informs me. He’d rather spend his time learning everything he can about physics, space flight and our solar system, on the off-chance NASA starts admitting 11-year-olds.
Looks like it has to be Landon. Which means I have to convince his mom to let him play Fortnite more than one hour a day. That will be difficult, as Britney doesn’t consider me an adequate role model.
(Man, you tell your nephews just once they need to let you know when they’re doing something in front of you they’re not supposed to be doing, so you know not to mention it in front of their parents, and it gets held against you for life.)
“I wouldn’t share the money,” Landon says. He doesn’t yet understand concepts like “hiring uncle as an agent” and “contracts.”
A 16-year-old from Pennsylvania won $3 million last month playing Fortnite. According to the New York Times, the kid plays Fortnite six-to-eight hours a day, five days a week.
Landon also uses the banana-man “skin.” “Because i can,” he explains. Obviously: always be yourself, unless you can be a banana-man. Then, always be a banana-man.
I’m no video game novice. Old-school, baby. When I started, “Pong” was state-of-the-art. You can’t conceive how much fun it was to move a white curser up and down on a black screen while trying to hit a little white dot back-and-forth.
“Space Invaders” was the most magnificent game I had ever seen, until “Defender” came out. Never cared much for “Pac-Man,” but loved me some “Battlezone” and “Operation Wolf.” My prize possession in the 80’s was my hand-held “Galaga” game.
All my gaming is done on a P.C. these days. And I game a lot. But I don’t play these first and third-person shooters, and no one seems to be offering huge cash purses for the games I’m good at: War games, turn-based strategy games and deep role-playing-games.
In “Fortnite,” from what I can tell from watching my nephews, several dozen or so players drop onto an island and immediately begin stalking each other with a variety of weapons.
Last player standing wins. It’s like the “Battle Royale” manga, only everyone on the island is soon packing enough firepower blast the island into smaller and smaller chunks.
I would last until however long it took another player to notice me.
Now, “X-Com 2”? “Civilization V and VI”? I’ll kick butt and take names. If someone offered cash prizes for skill in “Pillars of Eternity,” “Neverwinter Nights 2”, “Wasteland 2,” or “Pathfinder: Kingmaker,” I wouldn’t need to be putting pressure on my nephews.
I try to explain all this to my nephews. And probably just lost my chance at being their agent.