Parents are getting ‘Fortnite’ coaches for their kids

(CBS News) — Remember when parents would pay for stuff like math tutoring, piano lessons and baseball coaching?

These days, it seems that one thing in particular has overtaken each of those markets.

And that thing is “Fortnite.”

On an international quest for parental views on the ever-popular co-op video game, The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah E. Needleman found that some families aren’t necessarily spurning hours-long commitments to the screen as much as they are encouraging them. So much so, in fact, that it isn’t uncommon for mom and dad to shell out real money so their kids can have “Fortnite” teachers.

More than 125 million people play the game worldwide, per WSJ, so the competition can be steep. And instead of fretting over the countless hours it can consume or the violence its “Battle Royale” mode entails, many parents are apparently more concerned with whether or not their kids are any good at it. Much like “eager dugout dads opening their wallets for pitching lessons,” Needleman noted, parents of “Fortnite” players are increasingly “willing to pay for their offspring to gain an edge.”

That means lessons costing anywhere between $10 and $20 — or more — an hour. It means the rise of contracting sites like Bidvine, which Neddleman said “has hired out more than 1,400” tutors in the last five months. For some parents, it even means secret online coaching, like what one suburban dad paid for — while his kids “grew suspicious” as he suddenly became better at “Fortnite.”

As surreal — or even sad — as it may seem that parents are funneling money into video games rather than actual games, it shouldn’t be too surprising things are trending this way. Epic Games Inc., the company behind “Fortnite,” recently offered $100 million in gaming prizes, as Needleman noted. “Some colleges” are creating “financial incentives to join their varsity” gaming teams.

And even professional athletes, from new Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield to Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart, have enlisted time and money into building their careers on “Fortnite.” The latter famously said in March that he spent 10 straight hours playing the game, and he came dangerously close to saying it was more thrilling than his own national championship win in college.

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