29 year old gym teacher Brett Belsky of Brooklyn, New York’s Middle School 890 has been fired for playing Epic Games’ popular battle royale shooter Fortnite with students. Back in January of 2018, Belsky shared his Xbox Live gamertag with the kids, and promised to play Fortnite with them if they did well in their classes.
Speaking to the New York Post, Belsky said, “As a teacher, you reach out the best you can. These kids talk about video games. I said, ‘If you can get this work done, maybe I’ll play against you.'” After the kids, who were reportedly 11 and 12, did well in his class, Belsky held up his end of the bargain and played 20 minutes of Fortnite with them in March 2018.
Despite Belsky requesting the kids get permission from their parents before he played Fortnite with them, the 11 year old apparently only told his father after the gaming session took place. The 11 year old’s father then reported it to Belsky’s principal, triggering an investigation by the Department of Education. After the investigation, Belsky was fired, with investigators coming to the conclusion that he “engaged in inappropriate internet conduct” by playing Fortnite with his students.
A spokesman for the Department of Education told the New York Post, “Mr. Belsky was terminated based on his overall performance, including a review of this case.” So while that seems to imply there were other reasons for firing Belsky besides him just playing Fortnite, Belsky disputes that notion, claiming that he has never been written up once in his eight years of teaching. Working with a union lawyer, Belsky will be appealing the decision to fire him later in February, and maintains that playing Fortnite with his students wasn’t wrong. “This game is insanely popular with them. I have to figure out a way to reach these kids, to get them to do their work. I love what I do. I am a good teacher.”
Belsky isn’t wrong when he says Fortnite is popular with kids, and when he played the game with them back in 2018, it was at a time when the battle royale game was really taking off. Fortnite has smashed concurrent player records, and has become a part of mainstream pop culture in the process.
However, Fortnite is not without its controversies, with cases of Fortnite addiction drawing negative attention as the game has seen some kids literally sent to rehab. This and the fact that the game is about killing other players may have factored into the decision to fire Belsky, but that’s just speculation at this time. It will be interesting to see what happens when Belsky appeals his firing later this month.
Fortnite is out now for iOS, Android, PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
Source: New York Post