The University of Maryland Baltimore Campus (UMBC) was this year’s Cinderella Story in the NCAA basketball tournamen. When the 16th seeded “Retrievers’’ defeated the Number 1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers it was as if the 1980 USA Hockey team had suddenly emerged from some dusty closet to defeat the Russians again. UMBC pulled off the largest upset in NCAA basketball tournament history.
When asked how it felt, one of the players said, “It’s like your first Fortnite victory, honestly,”
That statement tells you just how big Fortnite has become.
For those of you without daily contact with a young man under 30, Fortnite is a free online third-person shooter game with the added Minecraft-like feature of building fortresses.
It has this campy cartoony style interface that keeps it fun and arcade-like. For example, they have a weapon called a “Boogie Bomb.” If you throw it, everyone suddenly can’t stop dancing.
Of course, there’s a dark side to the humor. While everyone is dancing you shoot them dead. It’s a game. Nobody really gets hurt.
The owners of Fortnite make their money selling skins and different characters.
Some of the characters can only be earned through extensive gameplay, (My son warned me that if you see a girl in a fluffy pink bear suit with a heart on her chest, run like mad. That guy has played a lot of Fortnite), but most of the different skins and characters can be purchased. That’s how the developers make their money.
And they make a LOT of money. For example, I read recently that Fortnite made just south of $300 million in the month of April. That’s 1/3 of a billion in 1 month! Everyone is playing it.
I walk into the den and one of my sons is engrossed in a battle with his buddies online. He looks up sideways from his controller and says, “Look at this Dad, this is the greatest game ever!”
I do the dad thing, “Yeah that’s awesome. Hey listen, do you earn any college credit for that?”
“Will they give you a scholarship if you win?”
“Anybody making any money playing that thing?”
“Dad, give it a rest.”
I said, “If you can’t earn college credits or get a scholarship or make any money then why do you invest so much time in this thing?”
His answer came quick and easy, “C’mon dad, its entertainment. You can get lost in the game for a while and forget about everything else. It’s a nice way to escape.”
I thought about it and wondered, “Is that how church life is for a lot of people?” Is it a great little diversion where you can get lost for a while and forget everything else? Is it a nice way to escape. I mean, it does seem to have some of the same features.
It’s mildly entertaining (sometimes for the wrong reasons).
You can hang out with your friends.
And while you are here you can forget about life for a while.
I don’t suppose that’s always such a bad thing. Unless you start thinking that those things are ALL that church is about. Here’s the truth, church isn’t a place to escape the pressures of life. Church is the place where you go to be prepared to face the pressures of life.
Here’s the big problem with Fortnite and if church becomes like Fortnite this becomes an even bigger problem for the church: After playing it for hours you haven’t really done anything.
And that’s the problem with way too many churches. Far too often in churches today people retreat from the world and consequently, nothing productive ever happens. They have contented themselves with Fortnite faith.