Our new ‘normal’ – and how Fortnite is an unexpectedly important part of lockdown life

Thank goodness for Fortnite. Not a phrase I ever thought I would hear myself say – but there, I said it.

Sunday, 19th April 2020, 10:00 am
Updated Monday, 20th April 2020, 8:42 am
Players are seen on screen during the final of the Solo competition at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup July 28, 2019 inside of Arthur Ashe Stadium, in New York City. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP) (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images) 775341798

Because that annoying game has been a fantastic lifeline in helping many children keep in touch with their friends and play together during these unusual times.

For the uninitiated, Fortnite is an online game which players from all over the place can play together – and if players have a headset they can also talk to their friends too.

Yes, it may have been the cause of an argument or 12 in the past, but this (and other online games!) gives our small people the ability to talk to, and play with, their friends in a way which would have been impossible otherwise.

Give a child a telephone to talk to a relative and you get little out of them other than a ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘it was good’ in response.

It can be painful. They just don’t communicate in that way.

But give them a means of talking while playing and they will chat all day long if you let them.

My son’s favourite activity of the moment also seems to be Facetiming his friends while playing the same game together.

Or in the case of my daughter, borrowing my phone so she can have a video chat on whatsapp while playing with her friend.

But this kind of communication is just another new ‘normal’ – and thank goodness for it as the nation now seemingly spends hours talking instead of texting.

It all came in particularly useful at the weekend when it was my daughter’s birthday as it meant friends and family could better get in touch with her – and she could see them.

It made her day and ensured her big day remained special.

But she is not the only one spending more time on video calls talking to friends.

Part of my own week has seen me being organised into taking part in regular group video calls for the various friends and family.

It has been a real lifeline to be able to have the kind of chats I would normally have each week and break up the monotony of our isolation at home.

Equally welcome has been a week of annual leave for me on what should have been the Easter holidays.

Obviously it was nothing like it should have been, but having a whole week to spend on just family time and doing things in the home has been a welcome change of pace instead of the constant guilt of trying to juggle working from home and homelife.

With some beautiful weather we have taken full advantage of quiet roads and got on our bikes – whizzing past nearby friends’ houses to at least be able to wave and shout at them from afar.

I suppose it is just another part of our new ‘normal’ – and it also gets my children away from their screens!