Photo: Epic Games
The rules of "protect the president" are simple. First, you squad up with some friends in Fortnite. Then, you pick someone to be the president. Everyone else must do everything in their power to protect that player during the match. If the president dies, everyone loses.
For added fun, you can tack on some additional rules. Some players like to make the president a "no-skin," meaning this player doesn't get to wear a special costume. For the players who are pretending to be the secret service, the best skin to wear is John Wick. (He does, after all, don a suit.) While the John Wicks can use everything at their disposal to take out the enemy, the president can typically only use defensive or restorative items, like shields. Sometimes, players let the president use a handgun as well. The point is to make the president vulnerable, so they have to rely on the secret service to make it through the match.
The house rules vary depending on who is playing because "protect the president" is not an official mode supported by Fortnite. I've seen variations on the theme that include letting the secret service wear the Special Services skins because not everyone has the John Wick appearance. But if you really want to have fun with this, you can take the roles seriously enough to role-play them, as Fortnite superstar Ninja did in a recent stream. The YouTube video already has 4 million views:
Ninja and pals give the bodyguards call signs, and they hypercommunicate about potential threats and noteworthy resources. When other players appear, they scramble to get into formation while the president takes refuge under makeshift buildings. It's great. The mode has become popular because it's both a ton of fun to play and watch.
Ninja is not alone in this, though. If you look on YouTube, there are thousands of protect the president videos, some of which have reached hundreds of thousands of views.
And on social media, players are telling each other to take on the "protect the president challenge" as a means of spicing up Fortnite. On Reddit, players are suggesting that Epic Games, the developers, make this an official mode. Instead of squads, however, players want a 50 versus 50 mode where enormous teams try to defend a VIP from enemies. The basic idea is the same, but players want in-game UI that facilitates everything, such as markers that denote where the president is.
We reached out to Epic Games to ask if it would consider making protect the president an in-game option, but the developer did not respond by press time. That said, Epic has a great track record when it comes to implementing player suggestions and jokes, so there's an actual chance this could happen. There's certainly precedent for implementing player suggestions in battle royale-style games: in PUBG, fans pretended to become zombies against a single survivor, and the unofficial mode eventually got put into the game for real. Plus, other games like Counter-Strike have already proven that protect the president-style modes work. Make it happen, Epic!