It was perhaps inevitable that a gaming sensation that’s swept more than 125 million people up in its addictive, player-versus-player net would spawn something as far-fetched as this, but for Fortnite devotees (and their parents, apparently), being the last one standing has gotten seriously serious.
Moms and dads who want nothing but the best out of their fast-twitch teens (and pre-teens) are reportedly paying elite players of Epic Games' hit multiplatformer to coach their aspiring lil’ shooters into top fighting shape, doling out as much as $20 per hour to invest in training that hopefully will lead to Battle Royale bragging rights — and maybe even riches.
Dad Nick Mennen, reports The Wall Street Journal, hired a $20 per-hour coach in the hope that Noble, his 12 year-old son, will end up getting either a gaming scholarship or tournament prize money. Another dad, Adrian Luff, is putting all three of his Fortnite-playing kids through lessons, with tongue-in-cheek dreams that at least one them will get good enough to “fund my retirement.”
As you might expect, the talent pool demographic for Fortnite coaches appears to trend super-young. Parents find experts willing to pass on their tips and skills via social media and contracting websites (like Bidivine, which told WSJ it’s already placed more than 1,400 Fortnite coaches since March), negotiating a pay rate before turning their kids’ itchy, untrained trigger fingers over to the pros.
Logan Werner, an 18 year-old who’s getting paid to finesse kids’ Fortnite skills, said it’s “surreal” that people are willing to spend money on a hobby that, in his experience, many adults tend to view as a waste of valuable time. “My dad would have never paid for me to take videogame lessons,” he said.
Not all the parents WSJ interviewed said they’re driven by the desire for their kids to excel at cutthroat competition or land a big prize money payoff, though. Some, in fact, view gaming lessons in much the same way they view coaching for any other extracurricular activity parents already are accustomed to paying for: sports, music, and art. “I want them to excel at what they enjoy,” explained dad Euan Robertson, who’s paying for lessons for his two sons.
For those who make it to the next level, though, it might be a good idea to start thinking about their Fortnite devotion as more of a daily-grind job than a hobby. “It's near impossible for me to do anything during normal hours,” Twitch streamer Janet "xChocoBars" Rose recently told SYFY WIRE. “I don't really have a personal life since it's hard to see my friends.”