Boy Scouts of America introduce game design badge

The Boy Scouts of America have unveiled their 131st Merit Badge. It’s a game design badge the Boy Scouts hope their members will learn from.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The Boy Scouts of America have unveiled their 131st Merit Badge. It's called the Game Design Badge, which the Boy Scouts hope its members will learn from as the organization looks to further promote science, technology and math.

To earn the Game Design Badge, scouts have to analyze four different kinds of games from table-top and sports, to role playing and electronic games. They then create their own.

"Game design is an expanding area of opportunity,” said Scott Armstrong with the Boy Scouts Longhouse Council. "It's about the thought process that goes into game design. It's about the technical proficiencies it takes to design a new game. It's about the cognitive process of evaluating the game to see its playability, to see its likeability.”

A lot more goes into game design than you think.

Scott Nicholson, SU Associate Professor at the School of Information Studies told NewsChannel 9, "You have to understand the programming aspect, if you're making a table-top game you have to be able to write very clear rules so that includes technical writing. And all that comes to life through art, through music, through graphic design. So, there's communication skills, there's critical thinking skills, there's a lot that goes into making a game."

Whether playing soccer outside, a board game with the family or video games, the Boy Scouts say playing challenges us to overcome long odds, play with or against other people and tell compelling stories.

"You're creating both a players journey and the characters and the way they're interacting and after you come up with the story you've got to figure out the mechanisms of how they're going to interact and that requires mathematics, that requires understanding statistics and probabilities and odds,” Nicholson said.

"We're trying to build on the skills that will be successful for the boys later in life, in the meantime, it's disguised, frankly, as fun and in a lot of cases they don't know the difference,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong stresses that no one should mistake this badge for encouraging the playing of video games. He says the Boy Scouts spent the last four years researching the badge, including surveys with parents.
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