It's not your father's Boy Scouts anymore: The Boys Scouts of America announced the introduction of an ability badge for Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts and Webelos Scouts that boys can earn for displaying a proficiency with playing videogames. In order to earn a belt loop badge, scouts must complete three requirements: Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games, create a schedule for scouts to do things that includes their chores, homework and video gaming and then learn to play a new video game that is approved by the scout's parent, guardian or teacher.
Scouts can also earn an academic pin by purchasing an age-appropriate video game, listing good reasons to buy a game, compete in a family game tournament, teach another person how to play the game, list five helpful tips a beginner learning the game could use, play a game that helps with math or reading skills, install a gaming system with an adult and lastly compare prices for a video game purchase, taking into account factors such as the store's return policy and manufacturer's warranty.
Despite the organization's clear dedication to encouraging "age appropriate" titles, there are some skeptics of the plan.
"It could be quite visionary and exciting or it could be a complete sellout," Dr. Vic Strasburger, professor of Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, told Fox News. "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?"
The news comes as the debate over violent video games, and whether it should be legal to sell them to minors, is heading for the highest court in the land. Earlier this week, the Supreme Court announced it would hear a case to decide whether the state of California has the right to refuse the sale of violent video games to minors. The law in question was passed in 2005 and imposes a $1,000 fine on retailers found selling violent video games to people less than 18 years of age.
"Let's be serious: the kids are already into video games," Renee Fairrer, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts of America, told Fox. "You can't sit on the couch for 13 hours a day and play video games. We want to get them when they're that Cub Scout age, when they have that strong parental influence, to be able to make those decisions" and see it as only a small part of their daily life."