Samsung and Cheil Brasil have teamed up for a community-focused collaboration in the form of the Fortnite Glow skin. The Glow skin can be donated to players without a cosmetic upgrade by other players. The campaign launched a few months ago exclusively to owners of a Samsung smartphone, but can now be donated to all players regardless of Fortnite platform or type of smartphone if the player in question is without any skins prior to the donation.
Samsung has teamed up with a variety of top streamers throughout Brazil to connect with their respective fanbases and give out the codes in the form of raffles, giveaways, or however else a campaign partner may see fit to connect with their audience.
The "Default" stigma
Fortnite players without skins are often referred to as "No-Skins" or "Defaults" and are often-targeted in game due to their assumed novice ability due to a perceived lack of experience inferred by the abscene of a cosmetic modification.
This isn't a new trend in gaming, even when specifically regarding the Epic catalog. Gears of War's multiplayer community coined the phrase 'Marcus Noob' to players who would utilize the game's protagonist, Marcus Fenix, in online multiplayer games instead of seasoned community favorites like Damon Baird or Anthony Carmine.
However, the current situation in certain parts of the Fortnite community presents two key differences. First, while Gears of War eventually added more skins in the form of purchaseable DLC , several characters were available with the game upon release. The 'Marcus Noob' moniker was given to players considered foolish for not utilizing one of many other options available to all players that was perceived by the majority of the playerbase to be superior.
In-game banter is all in good fun, and the situation outlined above is similar to ribbing someone having a default 'egg photo' on their Twitter account as opposed to an uploaded picture. Furthermore, it's important to note that a single instance of a Fortnite player taking the opportunity of an easy mark in-game revealing itself in the form of not having a skin is not necessarily indicative of full-on class warfare in the Fortnite community.
However the second key difference in the Fortnite community's current situation when compared to Gears of War's 'Marcus Noob' is the potential severity in how these interactions can escalate.
Polygon's Patricia Hernandez wrote about the social phenomenon occuring throughout schools, where the term 'default' has transcended the Fortnite island and made its way into the every day conversation not unlike the mid-2000s rise in usage of 'noob' in non-gaming situations.
“On more than one occasion I heard the kids refer to one another as a ‘default,’” middle school English teacher Paul Towler told Hernandez. “At one point they started to use it just as a generic insult both in and out of the classroom." Towler also told Hernandez of more severe instances of social ostracization he had observed, such as one student who 'begged his parents to buy a skin because no one would play with him'.
Bullying in schools is an issue as old as time, and while Epic Games is not to blame for these types of situations, the cultural impact of Fortnite is indicated by the game's pervasiveness in context of social structure in a middle school.
Samsung and Cheil Brazil's collaborative campaign around the Fortnite Glow skin to eliminate these situations in a positive, community-building fashion deserves praise for its initiative, as well as its understanding of the community's strength in Fortnite's general ecosystem.
However, the campaign does not necessarily attack the core of the issue. It may lessen the severity and frequency of real-life social ostracization related to Fortnite cosmetics, but the skin being only available by donation from other players may lead to a new stigma around the Glow skin itself.
Any skin is better than no skin in terms of participation in the Fortnite community, and at the very least, the campaign's initiative to partner with streamers will only incentivize new players to familiarize themselves with the Fortnite community at large and its various figures. However, Fortnite may want to look towards making the Glow skin available by other means should they want social segregation to subside.