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Boy Scouts add a Game Design badge

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Boy Scout Game Design badge (Credit: Boy Scouts of America)

Camping? First Aid? Swimming? Today's Boy Scouts are looking for a bigger challenge.

The organization, perhaps in a bid to stay in tune with more technologically-minded youngsters, has announced a new merit badge for scouts, one that's specifically centered on games.

Earning one isn't quite as easy as simply grabbing some coins as Mario, though. To acquire the new Game Design merit badge, scouts will have to put their creativity to the test conceiving, testing, and building a game prototype.

"Games motivate both young and old to find creative solutions, practice new skills, and keep their brains active," the organization said when announcing the badge at South-by-Southwest. "Scouts who work on the Game Design merit badge will likely look at the games they play differently and with a new level of appreciation."

It’s a daunting task. First the Scout must create a notebook design for his project, demonstrating the concept, multiple design iterations and feedback from blind testing. Assuming his Scoutmaster signs off at that point, the Scout will have to build a prototype of the game.

Pretty much any play style is free game. Scouts can make a new card or board game, something dice-based -- or, if he's especially ambitious, an app.

The decision to introduce the Game Design merit badge came after two years of consultation with game industry volunteers and enthusiastic players, who examined the requirements and ensured that creation of the games would not force the Scout to pay high out of pocket costs.

As with every Boy Scout badge, there's a bit more here than meets the eye. Scout officials say the true purpose behind the introduction is to help children hone their logic, strategy, and even mathematics skills in a fun and challenging way.

This isn't the Scouts first blending of Merit Badges and pop culture. A few years ago, director Steven Spielberg helped the organization launch a merit badge in cinematography.

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