SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
High schoolers, celebrities, parents, even sports teams are copying some of the signature dance moves from the video game Fortnite. Capital Public Radio's Adhiti Bandlamudi brings us this.
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ADHITI BANDLAMUDI, BYLINE: Wissali Holman and her husband Skyler are having their date night at a nightclub-styled video game lounge called PLAYlive Nation in Tracy, Calif.
WISSALI HOLMAN: There's somebody coming - no, no - yep. I died (laughter).
BANDLAMUDI: It's a big, dark room with club music playing in the background. Instead of a dance floor, TVs line the walls with connected Xboxes. Big, comfy chairs sit in a row in front of the TVs. The Holmans have never been to this arcade before.
HOLMAN: You know, I actually walked by with my sister, and I saw people playing Fortnite from outside, and I was like, oh, my gosh, my husband will love this.
BANDLAMUDI: Fortnite is a cross-platform game. You can play it on your phone, computer or a gaming console. The game's premise is that you enter into a world and have about 20 minutes to build fortresses and shoot down other players until it's the last man standing. It's caused a major stir in the video gaming world because it's turning casual gamers into avid gamers.
JOOST VAN DREUNEN: Fortnite appeals to a mainstream audience.
BANDLAMUDI: Joost van Dreunen is the CEO of SuperData Research, a company which specializes in video game analytics. He says most shooter games are serious and simulate violence with lots of blood and gore. Fortnite is more like a friendly game of tag.
VAN DREUNEN: It's more colorful. It has, you know, sort of tongue-in-cheek, you know, aesthetic to it. So for all those reasons - it's cartoony. So for all those reasons, it's much more accessible and much more friendly.
BANDLAMUDI: His company estimates the game has made over $200 million in March alone. The game is actually free to play. All that money is made through microtransactions. Players spend money on extras like skins, which are basically costumes for their characters, or on emotes, which makes the characters do a special dance.
CATHERINE GARRETT: I've probably spent around $60 to $70.
BANDLAMUDI: That's Catherine Garrett, a Fornite player from Athens, Ga.
GARRETT: There's always just so many fun, like, skins that come out that are, like, limited edition, and you don't know if they're going to be out again and sometimes I just feel too tempted.
BANDLAMUDI: She says she's never been one to spend hours on a game. But after Fortnite came out, she's now playing two to three hours a night.
GARRETT: And then just recently, I started watching a lot of gamers on Twitch, especially Ninja.
BANDLAMUDI: Twitch is a streaming service for video gamers, and Ninja, a gamer name taken by 26-year-old Tyler Blevins, is now a legend in the Fortnite world. He's a master at the game and rocketed into popularity after playing in an online battle with rap artists Drake and Travis Scott. That battle has been watched nearly a million times.
GARRETT: Holy cow, Drake plays Fortnite. That's insane.
BANDLAMUDI: Not just Drake, it seems, but everyone can play Fortnite. The idea of who is a gamer is expanding. Van Dreunen from SuperData Research says Fortnite's success is likely to continue.
VAN DREUNEN: It's almost impossible to fail at this point, at least in the foreseeable future, because it has all the ingredients.
BANDLAMUDI: It's free to play, easy to pick up and addictive to win and addictive to winners like when the Houston Astros beat the Baltimore Orioles recently and celebrated with Fortnite's jubilation emote dance - shoulders hunched, hands up, feet thumping the ground.
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BANDLAMUDI: For NPR News, I'm Adhiti Bandlamudi in Sacramento, Calif.
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