I never went on a camp out. I never tied a knot. I think I barely sad the damned oath thing more than four times. I had a uniform—an expensive one, my mom reminded me over and over again—but I never made it to my first merit badge. As I sat at the kitchen table painstakingly searching through encyclopedias for a list of vice presidents, I knew this crap wasn’t for me. Besides, with Scouts out of the way, I could spend more quality time with my Atari and at the arcade playing video games. Apparently, I was born about 30 years too early.
Because now, playing video games is no longer a waste of time. It’s apparently a thrifty, brave and reverent activity that is rewarded with a merit badge. All gaming ever gave me was carpel tunnel and a wide behind.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, the badge can be earned by “demonstrating knowledge of the video game rating system, creating a schedule balancing gaming with schoolwork and chores, and learning to play any new video game that is approved by a parent, guardian or teacher.”
And, according to PC Magazine, a “separate video pin can be earned for pursuing five requirements on top of those previously mentioned, including installing a video game system, helping a friend with a game by creating a little customized strategy guide, or playing an educational game.”
So basically, they want to take one of the most entertaining forms of wasting time and slap a bunch of alleged life lessons and restrictions on them to make them merit badge-worthy. If I’m going to sit down and play games with a friend, I’m not going to make him a strategy guide; I’m going to strike him out in baseball, pummel him in wrestling or blow his butt to pieces in an action game.
I have achieved the rank of silent assassin in Hitman 2, and the skills I learned there might be a lot more useful in the future than what they’re “teaching” in the Scouts through this colossal waste of time. All this merit badge has become is yet another reason for the anti-video game crowd to once again rail against the uselessness of gaming.
Later this year, the Supreme Court of the United States will decide whether or not a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors is a violation of the First Amendment. Presumably, they will come down in favor of gamers, but it’s things like this gem from the Boy Scouts that cause video games to be viewed negatively by certain segments of the public.
It’s not up to the Boy Scouts or the government to teach responsible gaming; it’s up to parents and families to decide what’s best for their kids. My sister-in-law, for example, agonizes over most every video game purchases that her kids make. She’s a conscientious parent, who often plays right alongside her kids for the limited amount of time that they’re allowed to play. And if she decided one day, for some bizarre, unknown reason, that there was something to be gained by her 10-year-old playing Grand Theft Auto, that’s her choice. The government isn’t going to teach responsible gaming by limiting sales, and the Boy Scouts aren’t going to teach responsible gaming by making sure that a kid knows how to hook up his Xbox. It’s a family decision.
But we not only live in the electronic age, we also live in an age of legislating/interfering/sticking our nose into everyone else’s business. So it only makes since that the pair meets to create a whole new cottage industry for intrusion.
Since the Scouts want to tread into these new waters, I thought I would help them out a bit and I have written them a new video game oath:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to Wii and Xbox;
To obey the my commanding officers on Call of Duty 38, or whatever the hell number we’re on now;
To help other people at all times unless they step to me strapped on Grand Theft Auto;
To keep my thumbs physically strong, my brain hopped up on Mountain Dew and shoot women, children and civilians only when double points are on the line.