iTZKooPA on Twitter asked my thoughts about the whole Boy Scout/video games merit badge thing. A couple things to note here — this isn’t for Boy Scouts, but the younger scouts (Webelos, Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts), and because of that, it’s not a merit badge (it’s a loop and a pin).
While the kneejerk reaction to this by some of the press is negative (what, you’re REWARDING kids for playing games?), I think that’s unfair. If you take time to read through the requirements to earn this, you’re going to see that they’re really emphasizing responsibility with gaming time, increasing knowledge of the ratings system, socializing with others, learning from parents how to spend money wisely, and even using games to help with school subjects. These are the positive aspects of gaming that you rarely hear in the media, because they’re not as sensational, so it’s great that the Scouts are promoting them.
I’d also respond to anyone opposed to this by pointing out that the Scouts aren’t only focused on outdoor activities — they have plenty of awards and badges you can earn for things you do at home and for fun.
But ultimately, gaming is a huge part of our youth culture, and it’s useless to fight that. Better to understand it, promote the positives and teach kids how to balance their gaming time with other priorities and activities. I know I will with my children.