Fortnite makes me feel like I'm 120 years old

Commentary: I thought music, movies or weird body augmentation tech would make me feel old. Turns out it was a video game, and that video game is Fortnite.

Mark Serrels Editorial Director
Mark Serrels is an award-winning Senior Editorial Director focused on all things culture. He covers TV, movies, anime, video games and whatever weird things are happening on the internet. He especially likes to write about the hardships of being a parent in the age of memes, Minecraft and Fortnite. Definitely don't follow him on Twitter.
Mark Serrels
4 min read
Ian Knighton/CNET

Don't laugh -- OK fine, laugh -- but it's always been my dream to be a "Cool Dad".

The dad who can do flips on a trampoline and still knows how to surf. A cross between Tony Hawk and Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Sure, I can dole out sound, practical advice when shit hits the fan, but I can also do a pretty sick Ollie when the occasion demands it.

Cool. Dad.

Ever since my wife and I (mostly my wife) spawned two boys (a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old) I've long been confident Cool Dad status was incoming. I have a practical advantage: video games .

As a 5-year-old, I fell in love with video games. Now that I'm an adult I still love video games. So much I made a career writing about them. I have an entertainment centre stacked with every modern gaming console you can imagine.

In the back of my mind, always the thought: video games are the key to Cool Dad status.

Josh Miller/CNET

Fast forward to 2018. I'm living the Cool Dad dream. I have a rock climbing wall in my garage. With my gut sucked in tight, you can almost trace the outlines of a four-pack. My advice game is A+++. I play street football with the neighbourhood kids and even do tricks and shit.

In short: I'm an embarrassment. A complete try-hard. The kids don't realise this because they're young, but when they grow up and have strange flashbacks to their childhood they'll no doubt realise what I painfully understand in the present: I am a complete buffoon.

But for now, I'm safe. I have become Cool Dad. The pact is sealed. "Hi, fellow kids."

On Sunday afternoon, a moment I've long awaited finally came to fruition. I came home from the shops to find that all of the neighbourhood kids -- five from age 5 all the way through to 11 -- had descended upon my house.

They were doing normal kid stuff. We have a trampoline, so they bounced around for a while. We have totem tennis so some were battering the hell out of that contraption.  

Then, the moment, I'd long awaited.
One of the kids: "Is that... a PS4?"
Aha, yes. Well-spotted, young man. It is a PS4.
"Can we play?"
I thought you'd never ask.

This was my moment. My time to shine. I turned on the console. The PlayStation 4 burst into life on my fancy OLED TV. The kids sat on the couch, enraptured. Fidgeting in gleeful anticipation of what was about to occur.

Cool Dad. Cool Dad. Cool Dad.

I began scrolling through my games: Rayman Legends, Trials Fusion, Grow Home...

"Behold children, all the wonders of the universe, all of the video games you can possibly imagine. Brace yourselves, younglings, to enter brave new worlds and partake in delights of which you've..."

"Do you have Fortnite?"

Fort… nite?
"Yes, I have Fortnite."

I have Fortnite, because Fortnite is free to play. But I've never actually played Fortnite.

The kids wanted to play Fortnite. I retired to my chambers.

Watch this: We heard you like Fortnite! (But does every game really need battle royale?)

Kids these days: They're obsessed with Fortnite. Fortnite is the battle royale game. A hundred players parachute onto an island and battle to the video game death. Fortnite is fun, Fortnite is current, Fortnite makes roughly $300 million a month.

Fortnite makes me feel like I'm 120 years old.

To me, Fortnite was a bizarre tower defence shooter that added a battle royale mode in a desperate attempt to gain traction. NEK MINNIT: it's an uncontainable phenomenon and Drake's streaming it on Twitch.

It just happened so quickly. It's not that I don't understand shooters, or don't understand Battle Royale as a genre, it's more like the sheer velocity of its ascent. Normally I'm ahead of these trends, this time I'm way, way behind and catching up seems next to impossible. With shooters like these there's a window, and if you miss that window you're going to get destroyed by hordes of teenagers with laser-sharp reactions and way too much time on their hands.

For years I wondered: What will be the thing that finally makes me feel out of touch and old? Will it be music? Will it be television? Will it be body augmentation or a form of virtual reality that connects directly to the brain like The Matrix? Nah, turns out it was just a regular, plain old video game.


Fortnite came out of nowhere. First kids were obsessed with Minecraft and I was absolutely across that. Then there was esports and the whole MOBA craze. Then we had PlayerUnknown's BattleGrounds, which was awesome and super popular and then all of a sudden it's like SURPRISE FORTNITE IS HERE!

Wait, what?

Long story short: There was a tremendous blind spot in my peripheral vision and Fortnite somehow snuck past it.

I couldn't have predicted this. The "thing" currently rendering me confused, out of touch, yelling at clouds like Abe Simpson, was my speciality. It was a video game.

I'll never recover from this. Thank you, Fortnite.

My Cool Dad dream is dead.

A tour through the Fortnite booth at E3

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