I’ll admit it, I’m a skin addict.
But it’s not what you think–I’m not talking about porn. I mean, porn’s great and all, but there’s something else I enjoy partaking in more, when I’m down in the basement late at night, after everyone else in my family has gone to bed.
Of course, I’m talking about Fortnite. Don’t all forty-somethings play Fortnite obsessively, grinding missions into the wee hours, in pursuit of the next skin to unlock?
…Okay, I just realized “grinding into the wee hours in pursuit of skin” makes it sound like I really am talking about porn. I’m not. This isn’t that kind of website.
I’ve been playing Fortnite since season two (it’s on season five now), and beyond $10 for my first season pass, I’ve hardly put any money into the game in the last two years* but have gotten hundreds of hours of stress relief and an undeserved sense of accomplishment out of it. I keep buying the next season pass using the V-Bucks (Fortnite in-game currency) earned from grinding the season before, so it’s basically my own video game version of a perpetual motion machine.
*Okay, I did pay real money for a Captain America skin. I couldn’t resist.
Anyway, there was a time when I was playing regularly with my kids, but I can’t use them as an excuse now–they’ve since moved on to other games while I’m the one still grinding away. The game has had some ups and downs over the seasons since I’ve started, but it’s still cartoony enough to not feel too intense–it’s supposed to be a stress reliever, after all–and it’s forgiving for a terrible shot like me, as there are plenty of ways to be successful even if you can’t hit an enemy with a shotgun from point-blank range.
I have been trying to cut back on my hours spent on the game. Over Christmas break, I stayed up way too late way too many times and started to become a bit nocturnal, which didn’t mesh well with the old daytime husbanding and parenting bit. Now that I’m back in the office (virtually) and my days start earlier, I can’t afford to be up at 3AM seeking the next Victory Royale.
But I haven’t been able to shake the obsession completely. The game creators do a great job dangling new carrots in front of me each time I snatch the one that’s closest. And I have the kind of addictive tendencies that make me the perfect customer for anyone offering geeky collectibles (see: comic book collection, Mighty Muggs collection, Captain America collection, Pops collection, video game collection, etc.). At least the skins are virtual, so even if they have no resell value, they at least take up less space than the rest of my junk.
I don’t see an end to this cycle, though there should be. I went to a Comic-Con panel years ago where someone asked director Zack Snyder how he was able to get so many projects done at once. “I don’t play video games” was his reply. He had a good point. I’m not working on my next great podcast idea while I’m rushing Loot Lake with my squad.
Of course, the last thing the world needs during this global pandemic is another podcast from a middle-aged white male geek.
So it’s probably a wash.