Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Newsday Tuesday

Boy Scouts Offer New Merit Pin -- for Video Gaming

The Boy Scouts of America -- a group founded on the principles of building character and improving physical fitness -- have introduced a brand new award for academic achievement in video gaming, a move that has child health experts atwitter.

Taking their cue from the popular online game, World of Warcraft, some cash-strapped local councils are also planning to convert their Cub Scout packs completely into online entities on the Scoutcrusher server. Said one den mother, "Building character in WoW is the next logical step for Cub Scouts in the 21st century -- there are Cooking skills and group activities, and I, as a mother, don't have to sew eight million ridiculous patches every time my kid earns an Achievement."

"It could be quite visionary and exciting or it could be a complete sellout," said Dr. Vic Strasburger, professor of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. "I don't see anything wrong with that as long as they're not playing first-person shooter games, violent games, games with a lot of sexual or drug content. The question is, who's going to supervise the scouts?"

Strasburger suggested that the Cub Scouts stick to servers where players cannot attack other players (also known as PvE) to minimize cyber-bullying, and also noted that the Boy Scouts of America should stay away from the Roleplaying servers since "that's where all the pedophiles congregate". Meanwhile, BSA downplayed concerns about violent and sexual content in games by noting that parents could opt to have their kids pursue traditional activities instead of earning this badge, such as Family Life, Rifle Shooting, Shotgun Shooting, and Motorboating.

"Let's be serious: the kids are already into video games," said Renee Fairrer, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts of America. Fairrer said Scouts frequently try to focus youthful energy and interest through safe and constructive channels. Most boys are already interested in firearms, she said, so the Scouts offer Rifle Shooting and Shotgun Shooting badges to teach proper safety protocols to older members.

Studies have shown that most teenage boys are also interested in sex, but the number of co-ed jamborees hosted by BSA has been extremely small. Said one forward-thinking BSA representative who did not wish to be identified, "We really need to work on getting some girls in the troops. If we don't hurry, the boys might turn gay and then we'd have to kick them out. That is not a sustainable growth pattern."

A review of some of the requirements for the Video Gaming pin shows that this achievement is actually very easy to accomplish, when compared to a pin like Astronomy, which was incredibly difficult in the days before they deigned to allow Scouts the use of a telescope.

♠ With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.

Buying plans may make sense for houses and indentured servants, but if you start your kid early on devising plans for one-step actions, they're going to need plans for eating a bowl of cereal or writing in cursive.

♠ Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.

A surprisingly high number of real-world skills are available in the Grand Theft Auto series, like the conversion of different units of measure (prostitute humps to health points), or the retail value of used and stolen vehicles. BSA is in talks with Rockstar Games to bundle copies of the game with the activity pin.

♠ 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.

Since all three stores are likely to be a Gamestop, and since all games made by Nintendo are subject to price-fixing, comparison shopping doesn't really fit well on video games. Were I a Cub Scout facing this activity, the sole criterium necessary for a purchase would be "Is my dad willing to drive me to this store?"

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