I was taken aback a year ago when the Boy Scouts of America introduced a set of video game related merit badges, and it made headlines. The Girl Scouts have had a game badge available for grades 7 through 12 since at least 1997. It's called 'Games For Life' and includes activities on video games, as well as board games, card games, and games you play with a group of people and few or no supplies. The requirements to earn the badge are a fairly even balance of playing games, critiquing games, and planning games.
According to the press coverage, the Boy Scouts' game badges introduced in 2010 are for grades 1 through 5. The requirements include studying ESRB ratings, making sure time spent gaming doesn't take away from chores and homework, and game console system installation. No activities regarding game planning or design.
It's always frustrating when one group gets credit for being innovative when in fact, another group has already been doing the so-called new thing for years.
But that's all last year's news.
I'm a Girl Scout troop leader, and a supply catalog arrived in my mailbox this week that includes a section for the new badges being introduced in Fall 2011. Requirements to earn the badges will be published in the new handbooks that aren't available until September. But these pages in the catalog show what they look like, and what the titles are. There are many that look great, but I'm most pleased to see these badges related to media literacy and technology, including two about game design:
BROWNIES (Grades 2-3): 'Computer Expert' and 'Making Games'
JUNIORS (Grades 4-5): 'Entertainment Technology' and 'Product Designer'
CADETTES (Grades 6-8): 'Digital Movie Maker,' 'Screenwriter', 'Netiquette', and 'Comic Artist'
SENIORS (Grades 9-10): 'Game Visionary' and 'Website Designer'
More details to come! In the meantime, you can see the new badges on the catalog pages below. Click on a page to see it larger.