“It’s the Universal Language:” Investigating Student-Athletes’ Use of and Motivations for Playing Fortnite

Jimmy Sanderson – Texas Tech University
Blair Browning – Baylor University
Hank DeHay – Baylor University

This research examined student-athletes’ usage of and motivations for playing the video game Fortnite. Social video games such as Fortnite are growing in popularity and athletes have become a visible consumer group. Semi-structured interviews with 22 Division-I student athletes were conducted. Analysis of the interviews generated six usage and motivational categories: (a) Fortnite as a Competitive Outlet; (b) Fortnite and Addiction; (c) Fortnite as Shared Athletic Experience; (d) Fortnite as Social Bonding; (e) Fortnite and External Social Connections; and (f) Fortnite as Relaxation. The results suggest that video games such as Fortnite provide meaningful social connection fulfillment needs for student-athletes, and also allow them to interact with fans and student-athletes at other schools. Yet, Fortnite also fosters addictive tendencies that can negatively impact their academic performance and well-being. Accordingly, coaches and others student-athlete support personnel can use video games to help student-athletes meet socialization needs while also promoting educational programming to help them minimize negative effects.