Fortnite has turned out to be a superb virtual merchandiser. Matthew Adams, playing Fortnite at the BYOC area of DreamHack, is one of its customers. MATTHEW ADAMS, Gamer: You can earn dances and buy them. Like, here’s a break-dance. PAUL SOLMAN: A break-dance. MATTHEW ADAMS: Like in old times, like disco. PAUL SOLMAN: And you could either earn those dances for your character or you can buy them? MATTHEW ADAMS: Yes, or you can buy them in the shop. PAUL SOLMAN: And how much is a dance cost roughly? MATTHEW ADAMS: Like two dollars. PAUL SOLMAN: Two bucks a dance. MATTHEW ADAMS: Yes. PAUL SOLMAN: Skins, the outfits players don, are $10 to $20 apiece. As a result, Fortnite grossed $296 million on cosmetic items and weapons upgrades in the month of April alone. How many hours a day do you play this? MATTHEW ADAMS: Maybe like five. I play a lot.
ZAC ADAMS, Father: I think that it will be as popular as baseball, basketball, and those sports. It’s just a matter of time. PAUL SOLMAN: Matthew’s dad Zac Adams is a pro athlete himself, a long-drive golfer who has hit a ball 450 yards onto a fairway. He’s taken up Fortnite to spend time with his kids. But, now, wait a second. Maybe Fortnite is the next big e-sport. But doesn’t the violence concern the father? A 2015 review by the American Psychological Association linked video games to increased aggression, though it found no link to violent crimes. ZAC ADAM: I think that the parents that do allow them to play should be responsible to bring that to the top of the list. PAUL SOLMAN: Matt’s dad said he wasn’t worried about a Fortnite addiction. But that was before the World Health Organization pronounced this week that such addictions can be a gaming disorder in extreme cases.
Do you worry at all about the addiction factor? I asked him if he was addicted to the game. And he said yes. ZAC ADAM: Right. Yes. Yes. Yes. I mean, it’s tough to like put my finger on that, you know, because if you balance your life with exercise, proper diet, and you’re — and you’re doing things to keep yourself mentally healthy, you can have a hobby that maybe isn’t necessarily an addiction, but it’s what you do, you know, and it’s what drives your life. PAUL SOLMAN: I had one last question for Zac’s son. Do you have any dreams of becoming a professional gamer? MATTHEW ADAMS: Yes. PAUL SOLMAN: You do? MATTHEW ADAMS: Yes. PAUL SOLMAN: Do you think you have a shot? MATTHEW ADAMS: Maybe. PAUL SOLMAN: For the “PBS NewsHour” in Austin, Texas, this is Paul Solman, sticking to my TV economics career, at least for now.