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Apr 30 / Loren

The video games merit badge

The Boy Scouts now have a video games merit badge. This seems a seminal event in victory of electronic media for the attention of our youth over the actual real world. Of course, for today’s youth (or I’m sure past generations had such an entertainment existed), video games are irresistible. The organization is reinventing its “program delivery method” and increased retention is a top priority, and it’s hard to think of more popular merit badge (perhaps chocolate eating, or visiting Disneyland merit badges). Notably, the web site devotes its first (leftmost) link to the marketing section.

It’s hard to understand how playing video games develops scouting’s core values. Taste in games and issues of simulated violence aside, I find the reset button an objectionable feature of video games as it relates to character building. Courage and perseverance are hardly fostered when should the game take a turn for the worse the push of a button gets you back for a fresh start. Of course the merit badge activity makes a point of parental involvement and age-appropriate games but you know for the typical kid this takes the fun out of it.

If any institution would be pushing back against video games, I would have thought it would be the Scouts. (I don’t think the Luddites are organized.) Aside from poverty and disability, when was the last child born in this country who never played video games?

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