Early in the year, the energy shift became palpable. I started noticing kids actually talking to each other. Boys and girls I'd barely heard speak were connecting and clamoring together to watch streams of other people playing a game. "Could it be?" the grown-ups asked, a hopeful glint in their eyes, "Is Logan Paul finally over?" It turns out Logan Paul, Tyler Oakley, and PewDiePie were replaced with Fortnite videos. It's almost as if it's finally cool to be Player 2, waiting your turn to play Luigi, except you're enjoying watching Mario so much that you're happy to sacrifice your turn.
Not only were the teens suddenly obsessing over playing/watching this one game, but they also spontaneously had dozens of new dance moves, and would execute them perfectly for their Snapchat stories. If you're in a public place and see a gaggle of tweens practicing their choreography, odds are they aren't rehearsing for the school play. Dancing is actually one of the cornerstones in this teens-vs-teens Hunger Games simulator. (Would it have killed Katniss to dance a little bit? Probably.) Fortnite dances are even popping up in World Cup soccer, videos of police officers, and professional boxing.
Refusing to transition from "hip young teacher" to "cranky old purveyor of busy-work packets," I had to learn more, because not only had my students become disinterested in coding video games in my class, but the only thing they seemed to care about was this fork knife thing. So I started playing.