Hit battle royale game Fortnite, a title known in part for its cartoonish design and unrealistic mechanics, features a number of elements that exist essentially as decorations. One of those elements is the lowly utility pole, which can be found dotting certain roads on the game’s island. Most players probably don’t notice the poles as they glide past overhead, but one public utility company has noticed them and it isn’t happy.
For those who don’t play Fortnite, here’s what you need to know about the utility poles in the game: they do nothing. In fact, they’re not even worth chopping down because they give you almost no wood. The most attention these random glorified sticks have ever received in the game was during a past challenge that compelled players to knock them down.
At some point, however, Israel Electric Company, a national electricity provider, got the idea that players are able to climb the utility poles in Fortnite. They can’t, mind you. But that hasn’t stopped the power company from asking Epic’s founder and CEO Tim Sweeney to remove pole climbing from the game.
The IEC called the non-existent ability to climb the utility poles a ‘disturbing and worrying phenomenon,’ one that supposedly encourages young players to ‘perform life-threatening activities’ in real life. That is, the IEC is afraid Fortnite players around the world will start climbing up actual real-life utility poles.
The IEC also said in its letter, ‘As a leading international gaming company, you are responsible for the personal safety of your consumers.’ As such, the power company has called on Epic to scrub all ‘dangerous content that encourages life-risking situations related to the use of electricity, such as climbing poles and public lighting facilities.’
Of course, the argument doesn’t hold up to any sort of scrutiny — we’re talking about a game that involves riding a hoverboard down mountains, shooting opponents, launching one’s self out of cannons, skydiving into an active volcano, and riding ziplines without protection hundreds of feet off the ground. Even if you could climb utility poles in Fortnite, it seems they should take low priority among other plausible risky behaviors.
Epic hasn’t commented on the request.