I heard this story on the news this morning, and perhaps you did too...about how the Boy Scouts have a new badge for playing video games (I'm serious). Depending on where you read the story, it's all kinds of biased...For one, it's not the Boy Scouts, it's the Cub Scouts...which apparently there is an age difference that separates the two. For two, most of the news reports make it sound like the Boy Scouts have gone over to the dark side by welcoming video games into the perceived Boy Scout utopian world of helping old ladies across the street and sitting around the campfire singing kumbaya.




Of the news articles I've read...they're all garbage. Playing video games is not a crime and journalists that unfairly characterize them as being a bad influence aren't journalists at all. But that's a whole different topic for some other blog...



Now let me say, I am not now nor have I ever been a Boy Scout, Cub Scout, Tiger Cub, Webelos Scout, Royal Ranger or Weeble Wobble and they don’t fall down...though I have considered a stint as a Space Marine. (Just for the college money though...was going to do my 2 years and get out).




I think programs like these are wonderful ways to keep our youth actively engaged in interesting activities, so please know that I mean absolutely no disrespect to these organizations and maintain the highest respect for those who volunteer to provide our youth (and future leaders) an outlet to start fires, chop up stuff and interact with nature (which could be interpreted as capturing and killing wild game) while learning how to use firearms and more primitive weapons like the bow and arrow (which we might need if there is an ammo shortage). These skills will all be necessary if we are to survive the alien invasion that Stephen Hawking has warned us about. All that's left for them to achieve is video game mastery and their skills will be complete.



So the video game badge only seems like the next logical step.



I am going to do my part and give the little whippersnappers some pointers on how they can achieve these real life achievements. I would encourage each of you who might read this to not take it very seriously and certainly don't add it to your parenting skills playbook.




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.



What the heck is an adult partner? That just sounds a bit on the weird side...



And parents aren't eligible because we've already completed all of these requirements, many times over. We would have gold stars on our video game badge for repeat awards. It would be like saying, here's your award for breathing today.



Okay, for the Belt Loop Achievement...you have to do the following:


Belt Loop

Complete these three requirements:


Requirement #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.


Well, we're asking 10 year olds to explain something that we don't even firmly understand ourselves, as witnessed by all the legal battles in the news lately. Does anyone else see the irony that the State of California, led by Conan the Predator killer, is suing the video game industry to ban the sale of violent video games to kids?




Okay Little Johnny, this is why it is important to have a rating system for video games. It's called plausible deniability, which is a legal concept and refers to a lack of evidence proving an allegation. So, if you get older and do something very bad, like use your spiffy pocket knife you got for earning your wood carving patch to stab your sister in the face for eating all the green M and Ms, the video game industry can use it as a shield when your defense attorney (that silly man in the tie who stands next to you when you're handcuffed) blames it on them when he should be blaming it on your lousy parents who had no involvement or oversight into what you were doing behind that closed door for hours on end. But alas, mom and dad are paying the attorney fees, so they certainly can't be held responsible.



Rating systems will never (or should never) remove the responsibility of the parent(s) (or adult partner) to monitor their child's activity and/or be held accountable for their actions.



For the second part of the requirement, unless you're into Square Bob Sponge Pants (or is it Sponge Bob Square Pants, I honestly don't know), let me save you the time of checking to see if the game you're playing is right for your age. If you're playing it and having fun, it's not right for your age.




Wow, these requirements are too easy. That one is already done.



Requirement #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.



See...the trick here is not to get caught up on and worry about how daunting the homework and chore list is because you have an out. The whole "do your best" to follow the schedule can be loosely translated as an excuse to do a crappy job. So, my advice, make the list as complex as you can. Start at one end of the house and go to the other, writing down every possible thing you can do. From moving the refrigerator out of the way and getting all that crap out from underneath it that somehow manages to get there, to mowing your yard and the neighbors yard. Devote an equal amount of time to your school work and list advanced subjects that are way beyond your comprehension. Devote about 30 minutes but certainly not more than an hour to video games. Give the list to your parents, and if they look at it quizzically, tell them you've always been interested in trigonometry, quantum physics and Roman literature. Once they approve the schedule, you're golden. Play as much video games as you want and if your parents give you any grief, tell them "Well, I'm doing my best." If you can produce an alligator tear, it will seal the deal. Trust me.



Sweet. We are well on our way to earning that Belt Loop.


Requirement #3 - Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.



This is almost a ludicrous requirement. Read it close. Learn to play...a new video game...approved by...no where does it say this is the only game you'll ever get to play. We're not trying to figure out how to get your hands on a copy of God of War here, we're trying to earn you that badge (badges, we don't need no stinkin' badges - sorry I couldn't resist). Bite the bullet. Ask one of the mentioned people to pick a game and then learn to play it. The easier and more juvenile the game is, the quicker you’ll be done with it. My advice is to ask a teacher, roughly 35-40 years old for a recommendation. Stay away from the old geezers. Teachers in the 35-40 year old group are very likely to be gamers themselves and might just recommend something cool for you to play like Modern Warfare 2. And girls are gamers now too, so don't dismiss Mrs. Peabody from your pool of potential candidates.



There you have it...one shiny brand spanking new Belt Loop in Video Games.



Man…I really wanted to write a guide for the Academic Pin…there are some really easy ones to poke fun at like playing for one hour (Gosh one whole hour) or playing a video game that helps practice your math (You’re being attacked by 5 zombies, and you shoot three of them each with a 3 round burst from an M-16 with a 30 round magazine, how many bullets do you have left?).




In all seriousness, the sarcasm and cynicism of this blog is not directed at the Boy Scouts (because I really do think it’s a great organization), rather, those who point fingers and place blame at anything and everything except themselves for the conduct and behavior of their kids. I am married and a father of three. My youngest is a 15 year old girl. We’re all gamers and we play everything from Rock Band to World of War Craft. I’d welcome any of these so called experts to come into my home and tell me how I’ve raised my kids is wrong.




Parents…if you want to know what you’re kids are doing…sit down next to them and watch them, without judging them and what they’re playing. The breakdown begins when the wall goes up and the wall goes up when you start judging them.



Life’s short. Play hard (and into the wee hours of the night).