Thursday, 12 July 2018

Dear Fortnite, please bring back Playground Mode

Play Fortnite

Dear Fortnite,

Please bring back Playground Mode in the next update - it makes the game accessible for my autistic son.

For the last three season's I've been playing Fortnite: Battle Royale. If you don't know, this is an online game where 100players are dropped onto an island and eliminate each other until one is left in a sort of Hunger Games type of thing.  Season 5 of the game started this morning!  I'm not great at it.  I didn't get the 'battle pass', I don't have many dances.

Last season I got up to tier 37, I've only got the PS4 free Blue Team Leader skin and I've only managed to eliminate up to three players in a game - apparently that's rubbish.   Despite my efforts I never made it to the tier to get the LolliPopper harvesting tool. But that's not what disappointed me most about the end of Season 4.  It's that Playground Mode disappeared.

If there is someone who likes me playing Fortnite more than me, it's my eldest son, Anthony, who happens to be autistic. He has loved watching the map change, the superheros, the skins, the emotes....  ahh the emotes.  It's like a cross of some of his favourite games, Minecraft, Unchartered, maybe Marvel Champions and even I suppose FIFA18 for a while (although spoiler alert the football stadium disappeared too).  And he's learned a lot from these games and used them to develop himself. But Fortnite Battle Royale is a PVP game - player vs player.  And this makes the game emotionally difficult for Anthony.

He'd love to play on the island, explore, create and shoot things but he's petrified of being eliminated and out of the game.  He can't cope with playing rounders at school for the same reason - it's difficult being 'knocked out'.  And whilst he understands this is part of the game, he can't play because of it.

This is very much part of my autistic son's character.  Many people with autism struggle with things that are unpredictable.  Knowing what's going to happen makes them feel safe, whether that's knowing what will happen today at school or what will happen in a computer game.  Many games have a story mode that follows a plot or have an obvious path.  And these provide him structure in his play.  But he'd loves the ability to be creative outside this - without the stress.  Minecraft Story Mode has offered some of this.

But in the player vs player format, Anthony also has other worries.  The unpredictability and unknown reactions of players.  One common misconception about people with autism is that they don't have emotions or empathy.  On the contrary, Anthony's emotions run very high.  He also has ADHD and this means he often struggles to consider if he's over reacting.   He often lacks confidence and worries he's not doing things right.

In Fortnite, he worries that the person who eliminated him is laughing at him.  We're careful about online play and safety but he still worries about the opinion of others.  He worries he's not good enough.

This has led to him watching my replays. In the game your 'play' is saved so you can review, relive or just watch your previous games. This has provided Anthony with the environment to engage via my play.  He knows when the game is due to end and can watch the action and then exit before I'm eliminated.  Because our boy with empathy doesn't want to see me eliminated either incase other players are laughing at me - awwwhhh.  I know.  When the game is updated I've saved some of my plays onto clip gallery for him until I made more.

Anthony started setting me daily challenges so he could watch me my replays.  They varied from eliminating particular skins, to find rare items or using a particular weapon. Quite creative for our autistic lad I'd say.

But honestly, I'm a busy mum and it was difficult to fit in.  I couldn't play 'live' when he was home from school so I had to fit in his challenges when he was at school.  As I've three kids - two with additional needs and some part time work, I've not been managing to get through his almost daily challenges (not unlike in the real game actually).

THEN SOMETHING WONDERFUL HAPPENED - PLAYGROUND MODE.

The developers bring out special modes.  Special teams, items, themes. But Playground Mode changed the game for our house.  This mode is freestyle game, where either you by yourself or up to just four players go onto the battle island for an hour before the game closes.  If you are eliminated you are simply dropped back onto the island in the same place.  No problem. You aren't 'out'.

Suddenly, with last Season's Playground Mode, Anthony could access the game.  Being able to control the players and number of players entering the game, took away the fears Anthony had.   It provides him with friendly practice in an environment he's now very familiar with.  He's still really worried about being eliminated and he's only managed to allow himself to continue and be dropped back into the game a few times.  But it's a way of building up his confidence.

Even though Anthony's favourite is definitely playing on the island by himself at the moment.  He loots, shoots and builds wonderful things.  One of my favourites was when he built a bridge of jump pads between the two hills near Loot lake and bounced between them.  It's a real step that he'll now battle with three other players. I'm not allowed to watch of course and irony is that now I'm the one watching his replays ;-)

There's still no way he could cope with playing the full 100 player game, but I know he loves the Playground Mode almost as much as I love watching him in it.  If he could just do it for a while longer I think he could cope with the player vs player and start to enjoy this too.  I know he wants to enjoy it.  And now Playground Mode is withdrawn, he's withdraw from the game with it.  I can't even entice him to play if I buy the battle pass.. and I would developers if he could use it in playground mode to start with.  He can't be the only one who would benefit from a stress-free practice area.

So please developers... can you bring back Playground Mode, pretty please?

Much love from

Blue Team Leader (and Anthony)

8 comments:

  1. Isn't the game driving you insane yet?

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    Replies
    1. Not yet Stevie ;-) Thanks for reading.

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  2. I too love the playground mode. I am absolutely rubbish at the game because I am struggling to learn all the controls (I'm getting old lol) so it's a great way to practice. Hope they keep it turned on for your son x

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Ellen. It would be great. Or maybe to bring it in as a regular mode during each season?

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  3. I find it confusing when these games bring in new stuff, then take it away, replace it with something, bring it back. If it confuses me it confuses my ASD daughter even more. Thankfully, she never really got interested in Fortnite.
    I hope they decide to bring back the playground mode.
    #wotw

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  4. Fortnite has not yet come to our house, but my nephews play it so I have at least heard of it! Sounds like playground mode does make it more accessible to more kids, I do hope they bring it back x Thanks for sharing with #WotW

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  5. I'm clueless when it comes to games like Fortnite and Minecraft, but I can complete Super Mario 3 in 29 minutes hahaha! I hope they bring it back for your son's sake - My son has autism and he was distraught when Disney Life took his favourite episodes off the show reel. Meltdowns for 3 weeks until I deleted the app and bought the episodes direct. #WotW

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  6. I don't really have a clue why it comes to Fortnite, but it sounds like the developers have made a big mistake removing story mode. Hope they add it back on soon :) #WotW

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I read all your comments and appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me and our readers. I welcome any feedback on my posts and you can always contact me directly. Thank you.

What is Autism?
It's so much I couldn't possibly try and explain. For us it's wonderful and heart-breaking. Joyous and truthful. But as far as diagnosis is concerned, why not have a look at the National Autistic Society for their definition of Autism.
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