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'Fortnite' premium skins could be encouraging bullying. Here's what you need to know

"Fortnite" allows players to unlock or purchase creative premium skins.
"Fortnite" allows players to unlock or purchase creative premium skins.
Epic Games

SALT LAKE CITY — Has your kid been called a “default?” Turns out it’s an insult that could lead them to spend more money on ‘Fortnite.”

According to Polygon, Paul Towler, a middle school teacher, found students would bully others over the virtual skins their characters wear in “Fortnite.” As the game grows more and more social, in-game premium skins become more prominent.

Players who use default appearance — referred to as “defaults” or "no skins" — can allegedly be pressured to spend money on new skins to stop the bullying.

Here are some highlights from the article:

  • Skins in “Fortnite” can be earned through the $10 battle pass or by connecting your account to other services. Other skins have to be purchased and can cost up to $20.
  • Some skins are only available for a limited time, encouraging players to spend money quickly.
  • The “default” insult is similar to “noob,” which refers to people with little experience.
  • Guy Diep, a parent, said his son asked for money to buy “Fortnite” skins so he wouldn’t be called names.
  • Videos on YouTube with millions of views show people being bullied and bullying others over default character skins. One target asks, “Why are you ruining the game?” after being harassed. Another kid describes how he was beat up for not having skins in the game.
  • Costumes don’t affect or represent player skill — they’re just meant to look cool and express personality.
  • Sameer Hinduja, the co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Centersaid individuals can sometimes attempt to find value and worth in superficialities, which could lead to more spending or bullying in games.

In other news, I recently reported that Epic Games is teasing a futuristic theme for ‘Fortnite’s” ninth season. New legislation introduced on May 8 could also lead to a ban on loot boxes and microtransactions in video games aimed at children, according to Variety.