Games are an important element in every culture around the globe. Simple games give structure to children’s playtime and help enforce basic social skills like courtesy, sharing, and taking turns, and more intricate games can help children hone their logic, strategy, and even mathematics skills. Through Game Design, its newest merit badge, the Boy Scouts of America is opening the door for Scouts to put their creativity to the test. BSA representatives will introduce the new title at the SXSW Gaming Expo in Austin, Texas—a three-day event that provides gamers and game designers alike an opportunity to interact and learn from one another.

Whether it’s soccer, a family night board game, or a handheld electronic device—games challenge us to overcome long odds, tell compelling stories, and work with or against one another. Games motivate both young and old to find creative solutions, practice new skills, and keep their brains active. 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. To earn this merit badge, a Scout is required to analyze different types of games; describe play value, content, and theme; and understand the significance of intellectual property as it relates to the game industry.

Over a two-year period, volunteers from the game industry and game enthusiasts across the country created and tested the merit badge requirements and accompanying pamphlet text to ensure the merit badge pamphlet held the young person’s interest, was challenging and fun, and required minimal out-of-pocket expense to complete.

The Scout puts his newfound knowledge to use by designing a game and creating a design notebook for this project. In his notebook, the Scout must demonstrate an initial concept, multiple design iterations based on initial testing, and feedback from blind testing. Once his concept is approved, the Scout can begin to build a prototype of his game. Testing of a Scout’s game can be done at Scouting functions such as camp outings. For his game design, he can choose from a wide range of media, from cards to boards, dice, and even designing a smartphone application.

Test Your Game Knowledge

  1. Egyptian hieroglyphs dating to 5200 B.C. depict a rock-throwing game that we now know as what?
  2. These randomizing tools were first made of sheep knuckle bones. What are they?
  3. What horse riding game did the Persians developed to train their cavalry?
  4. The Scottish parliament banned this game to keep troops from getting distracted during archery practice. What is it?
  5. The first known American reference to what many recognize as our national pastime baseball happened in what year?

Answers:
1. Bowling 2. Dice 3. Polo 4. Golf 5. 1791

Source: Boy Scouts of America