Reality Check: Is addiction to 'Fortnite' really a thing?

Rich Simpson, owner of Game XCape in Asheville, said "Fortnite" is the most rented game in his store. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The video game "Fortnite" is beloved by gaming enthusiasts. Fortune Magazine said the game has now generated more than $1 billion.

The game has become a cultural phenomenon, something akin to Harry Potter for Millenials.

"It's my most rented game in the store. Even compared to my paid games. And they can't get enough of it. They can't stop playing 'Fortnite,'" said Rich Simpson, owner of Game XCape in Asheville.

Simpson has owned Game XCape for the past 15 years -- and he's never seen anything like this.

Brandon Boone comes to Game XCape regularly to play "Fortnite." He said he usually spends a couple hours at a time playing the game.

"If I had my own Xbox, I'd be playing all the time," Boone said. "It's like a challenge, because it's hard to get a win. So, for me, it's a challenge to win."

The game is free, and Simpson thinks its accessibility is part of the reason for its success. Add-ons like dance moves, however, cost money -- and customers are paying up.

"Oh, yeah. I had an adult come in this weekend and spend $100," Simpson said.

But he has a concern about some players.

"If they're spending five, six hours, and this is all they want to do, it gets to an unhealthy point and they got to regulate it," Simpson said.

But how much time spent playing video games is too much?

"Playing video games in and of itself isn't necessarily problematic," said Dr. Alvin Malesky, head of Western Carolina University's psychology department. "It's when you go to the extreme, when you're playing 10 hours a day or 30 hours a week."

Malesky said that much time gaming is a sign of "internet gaming disorder."

"Interpersonal relationships begin to suffer, it could be as extreme as your sleep patterns get off kilter, stop taking showers and having good hygiene and stop eating good diets," he explained.

Malesky said gaming is an escape for many, a distraction from their problems, which can be a good thing. It's when people are playing so much they get lost in it that parents or loved ones begin to be concerned.

Malesky said if your kid is playing that much, first communicate with them and try to regulate their time playing. He said there are other benefits to playing video games in moderation.

He said studies show it can boost creativity, can be a good social outlet and, in some cases, can help people stay in contact.

We reached out to the creater of "Fortnite" to ask about the game's popularity. They declined to do an interview.

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