Whether it's soccer, a family night board game, or a handheld electronic device—playing challenges us to overcome long odds, tell compelling stories, and work with or against one another. Games motivate both young and old to find creative solutions, practice new skills, and keep their brains active. Scouts who work on the Game Design merit badge will likely look at the games they play differently and with a new level of appreciation. To earn this merit badge, a Scout is required to analyze different types of games; describe play value, content, and theme; and understand the significance of intellectual property as it relates to the game industry.
Volunteers from the game industry and game enthusiasts developed and tested the badge requirements as well as the text in the accompanying pamphlet to ensure the merit badge was interesting, fun, and inexpensive to complete. Here's how it works:
The Scout puts his newfound knowledge to use by designing a game and creating a design notebook for this project. In his notebook, the Scout must demonstrate an initial concept, multiple design iterations based on initial testing, and feedback from blind testing. Once his concept is approved, the Scout can begin to build a prototype of his game. Testing of a Scout's game can be done at Scouting functions such as camp outings. For his game design, he can choose from a wide range of media, from cards to boards, dice, and even designing a smartphone application.
Bryan on Scouting explains the four categories of games:
- Electronic (games for computers, game systems, or mobile devices)
- Outdoor/Athletic (sports or games like capture the flag)
- Tabletop (dice-based games, board games, card games)
- Pen and Paper or Role-Playing Games
The merit badge requires eight steps:
- Analyze four games from a different medium.
- Discuss five of 17 game design terms and describe how it relates to a specific game (including story, setting, characters, level design, and balance).
- Define and describe intellectual and licensed property.
- Pick a game, tweak the rules, and observe how it affects gameplay.
- Design a new game, complete with vision statement, play value, a list of rules, and game elements.
- Prototype and test the game three times, improving it each time.
- Blind test the game, including an instruction manual and a prototype playtested with a group of players.
- Interview a game designer or discuss three career opportunities in game development with a counselor.
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