First, I like the looks of the award pin. But predictably, there's been howls of outrage around the internet. That, after all, is what the internets do best, howls of outrage - typically over something utterly unimportant, in the finest tradition of what the Dutch call "ant-fucking". (Thanks arend that one never stops being useful.) Mostly it's people making predictable jokes about the Boy Scouts - some of which is fair, since they've been hijacked by a very conservative Mormon movement that is strongly anti-gay and willing to flog and old and honorable institution for the sake of advancing their own agenda. So lots of nerds scream in a combination of rage, irony, or just pleas for attention.
Setting aside, for a moment, the failing of the BSA to remain free of religious bias and serve every boy in America who would care to scout - I think the video game award is a great idea. It recognizes, rather than prowess in video games, the cub scouts' ability to balance video games with other activities, to responsibly follow age-appropriate guidelines, and to include parental supervision with their gaming activities. Here's the exact verbage:
Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts may complete requirements in a family, den, pack, school, or community environment. Tiger Cubs must work with their parents or adult partners. Parents and partners do not earn loops or pins.
Complete these three requirements:
1. Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Check your video games to be sure they are right for your age.
2. With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming. Do your best to follow this schedule.
3. Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.
Earn the Video Games belt loop and complete five of the following requirements:
1. With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
2. Compare two game systems (for example, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and so on). Explain some of the differences between the two. List good reasons to purchase or use a game system.
3. Play a video game with family members in a family tournament.
4. Teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.
5. List at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play your favorite video game.
6. Play an appropriate video game with a friend for one hour.
7. Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.
8. Choose a game you might like to purchase. Compare the price for this game at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the store return policy and manufacturer’s warranty.
9. With an adult’s supervision, install a gaming system.
Boy Scouts, and especially Cub Scouts (the only scouts eligible for these awards) aren't solely about outdoor skills. After all, there are also awards for showman, traveler, handyman, emergency preparedness, and all sorts of other life-skills. Sure, lots of them are the outdoor activities that were the principle interests of kids when Scouting started, but there are other awards that have evolved reflecting the interests of scouts ever since. And since video games are a very popular form of entertainment, reinforcing responsible use of video games is just as legit as teaching responsible use of the wilderness and respect for the environment.
So cease your howls of outrage, nerds! The Cub Scouts are teaching young scouts how not to over-do it on video gaming.