Last week, Fortnite was introduced as an esport at the high school and college level through a partnership between Epic and PlayVS. PlayVS facilitates esport competitions through the National Federation of State Highschool Associations (NFHA). However, just a few short days later, the game has now been banned from Kentucky varsity esport competitions by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.
Fortnite is a third-person shooter released in 2017 by Epic Games. Gameplay is centered around player versus player combat, with assorted weapons from guns to melee’s. The game, however, features no gore and cartooney graphics. The violent aspect of the game led some Kentucky residents to fear a potential negative influence on children. The notion that video games leads children to violence is not a new theory. Kentucky High School Athletic Commissioner Julian Tackett had this to say in an email to Kentucky school officials:
I want to personally assure you that we, along with the NFHS Network are proactively taking steps to have this decision reversed. There is no place for shooter games in our schools. This announcement was particularly troubling in that it came on the anniversary of one of Kentucky’s darkest days, the Marshall County incident.
Tackett calls back to a tragic mass shooting at Marshall Highschool from 2018. The incident took the lives of two students and wounded 12. The future of the esports program is now up in the air, as Tackett also asserts that the addition of Fortnite violates the terms of the contract between PlayVS and the NFHA. A representative for PlayVS refutes this, explaining that their high school Fortnite competitions would function as a club activity and operate outside of their partnerships with the NFHA and individual state association. The American Psychological association has cited that connecting video games and the increase of violence in children is problematic.