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Looking Back at the Black Hole: Reflections on the Fortnite Publicity Stunt

With Epic Games’ most recent PR stunt and the launch of Fortnite Chapter 2, LTN writers share their perspectives on the Black Hole Event. From appreciation to critique, writers Zach Carpenter, Ryan Eighmey, and Joey Thurmond discuss what the Black Hole Event meant to them.

For more LTN coverage of Epic Games’ release of Fortnite Chapter 2, see the Free Play Podcast, Episode 69.

Doing What it was Meant to Do

The black hole of Fortnite was a marketing plan/game event I have never experienced before, and I think it did exactly what Epic wanted.

As my friends and I played during the last days of Season 10, we knew Epic was probably going to blow up the map in order to launch a new map. On the Sunday of the in-game event, I watched one of my favorite Twitch streamers to see what happened because my game wouldn’t let me log in. Fortnite was sucked into a black hole. I remember texting my friends: “Whelp… I guess we aren’t playing tonight.” What followed was texting conversation full of speculation, hype, and mystery.

Then Chapter 2: Season 1 launched two days later. As a regular Fortnite player, Chapter 2 was exciting and new, and I loved the changes and simplifications that came. Though, what amazes me more is how this event has caused even more players to join. On Sunday, a friend of mine came up to me and said, “So, I downloaded Fortnite.” I responded with excitement! He continued, “Yeah, I saw the thing about how the game was sucked into a black hole. Then it came back and was different. I said to myself, ‘Okay, I better check out what all this craziness is all about.’”

That was when I knew Epic had succeeded at what I assume they wanted. Though they had two full days of not making a cent off of Fortnite, they created a moment that caused the world to take notice. The moment then caused old and new players to say, “I think I need to see what all this craziness is about.”

Zach Carpenter

…they created a moment that caused the world to take notice. The moment then caused old and new players to say, “I think I need to see what all this craziness is about.”

A Father’s Concern for His Son

So, I don’t play Fortnite very often. The only times I play are when I have my son and he asks me to play a few rounds with him. I’m no good at building, so we have never won, but we have come close. I say all this to show how little the Fortnite Black Hole affected me because it’s not a game I really enjoy all that much. However, this event did greatly impact my son. He was confused and frustrated that he couldn’t play his favorite game. He didn’t wonder so much about losing all of the aesthetics that he’s earned since he started playing last year. He just wanted to be back online earning more rewards. It fell on me to reassure him that the game would come back online while affirming how terrible it would be if the game wiped away all the things we purchased and/or earned, but to also show him that there’s more to life than playing this game.

Yes, he has a limited perspective, but that’s part of what being a parent is about. Helping our children to see the bigger picture and that the world doesn’t revolve around getting what we want when we want it. Sometimes, we have to adjust and do something different, and oftentimes that leads to growth and becoming a more well-rounded person.

Ryan Eighmey

Remembering My Own Black Hole

Pokémon Diamond was my Fortnite. My face was glued to YouTube and wiki pages studying the game’s deeper RPG mechanics. The Nintendo DS was always on my person, even on vacation. I started watching the films and collecting cards Overall, Pokémon consumed my every waking moment, and I wish my parents had restricted my overall time-sinks into the franchise. It was like a trance, and Epic Games’ decision to bring Fornite down for a couple days was something I wish I’d experienced as a kid with Diamond.

Kids have all the time in the world and should be freer to invest in what they love while they can. Nevertheless, they should be taught the impermanence and fading nature of interests like video games. My father taught me the value of delayed gratification with Lego Bionicle sets that I wanted, by forcing me to see how I ignored the people and blessings around me when my joy was found in the singular sway of something. When my grandfather was in his last year of life, I forsook time I could’ve spent with him by playing Call of Duty: World at War far more than I saw him. I was too shortsighted to understand a game wouldn’t mean much a year after its release compared to the value of lost conversation with and wisdom from the greatest man I ever knew.

Parents should be having serious conversations with kids about their feelings and reactions to the absence of Fortnite. The game’s world—and the game itself—can be a black hole in more ways than one.

Parents should be having serious conversations with kids about their feelings and reactions to the absence of Fortnite. The game’s world—and the game itself—can be a black hole in more ways than one. While I consider the marketing stunt itself bold and exciting to hype players up for what was around the corner, it also serves as a learning opportunity to take a step back and think over how much players should invest in entertainment at the expense of other things; how much we miss when we’re not missing Fortnite.

Joey Thurmond

Ryan is a proud husband and father of 3. In his spare time he plays video games a lot, board games a lot less, and delivers mail during the day.
Associate Editor
Joey Thurmond is a dragon in disguise. Other than that, he has two degrees in communication and English. He loves quiet rainy days with tea or coffee. Games of the shooter and survival-horror variant are his favorite, and he's a living repository of Star Wars and Bionicle lore. He writes for Common Sense Media and has bylines with Game Informer and Push Square. His own content can be read and watched on saveasdoc.com.
Zach is a youth pastor at Valley Shepherd Nazarene, in Idaho. He loves God, his wife, his children, video games, board games, and being up to date on anything techy. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachWCarpenter.

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