Thursday, May 6, 2010

Be Prepared ... to Save Princess Zelda

Today's J Squared column is about the new Cub Scouts belt loop/pin for Video Games.

The requirements and program the Boy Scouts of America has set up is actually pretty good. It definitely promotes responsibility when it comes to video games. And I'm for that.

It's just more fun to write about things that are ridiculous.

On My Honor, I Will Do My Best to Play 'Call of Duty'

And, don't forget about the latest caption contest!


  1. I found your article somewhat lacking. You spend too much time bashing gaming instead of focusing on the good points of the changes the BSA is making. Is the point of your article that the BSA is changing, or that video games are destroying the moral fiber of our nation? And if it's the latter, why?

    If your article is about the BSA, please remember that they are at least doing something to educate kids about games. No one else is bothering to make the attempt. Ignoring the problem makes it worse, not go away. Therein lies my biggest problem with the article. If they fail to modernize their curriculum enough to attract a new generation, won't the BSA just fade into obscurity?

    I do appreciate your humor, though. I'm glad there's still at least one good writer out there. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful response. I actually agree with what the BSA is trying to do. They are obviously promoting responsibility when it comes to video games, which is a noble effort. I think mostly I was just trying to portray the silliness of merging video games and Boy Scouts together. But, really, if boys meet the requirements for the Video Games belt loop, they'll be better for it.

    Your point about the BSA "fading into obscurity" was interesting. I hadn't really thought of that. It does make sense for the BSA to adapt the program according to what young men and boys are dealing with nowadays. And video games are a big part of that.

    I do think that video games are something families need to be careful with. Video games can be fun and beneficial, but in general I'm not a big fan of them. Blame it on growing up in a house devoid of video games. (Instead I wasted time watching TV. And maybe that's worse.)

    Anyway, thanks for reading!

  3. BSA, Video Games and death (violence and obesity) were all mentioned in the article in a way that implies a chain- BSA leads to Video Games, which leads to death. This logic has a few holes in it, like PCNerdy said. The biggest hole is between the BSA and Video Games part of this chain, which renders the link from BSA to death (i.e. that it's bad at all for BSA to have anything to do with video games, which would then lead to death (obesity and violence)) a non-sequitur.
    Let me explain- in order for there to be a good enough link between BSA and video games that would have the negitive consequences implied in the article, BSA would need to be taking kids that would otherwise have nothing to do with video games and get them hooked on them well enough to drive them to obesity or desensitized violence, which I assume to be a measure of time measured in months, not days. Clearly, this isn't targeted at getting kids involved in video games, but rather to curb the habits of kids who otherwise would have problems with obesity and violence (which both lead to death). Let's look at the scenario from both points- first a kid who loves video games. This kid probably already plays video games for hours each day, and may already be obese, or be desensitized to violence. He goes to a BSA meeting, and decides to get the belt loop. He then becomes more aware of the rating system, and manages a schedule to prioritize chores over video games. This could change his life to the point of preventing further death (obesity and violence) in his life, or he will fulfill the requirements and move on. Whether or not these make a significant change in his behavior in the long run, we can argue that he will have at least at one point learned that there should be responsibility, which would be better than having ignored them the whole time.
    Now let's take kid #2, who never liked video games and never really wanted to. A very likely scenario is that the kid never even bothers with the belt loop (as it isn't required for progress in rank, etc.), but for my purposes, let's say that he wants a companion on his belt to the archery and BB-gun shooting belt loops on his belt. This kid learns about the responsibilities of playing video games, and even learns to even play a few games, but not where he readily can access it.. Any parent should probably not spend $200 on an Xbox for their kid to get a belt loop. So where is he going to learn? Probably a friend's house, or some other place that isn't home. This means he really can't get addicted to the point of death.

  4. (Part 2)
    This can also be shown in a different way- let's take the requirement quoted in the article: "With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming". For the first kid, this would be a chore. This would mean changes in the habits and probably a decrease in the video games played. For kid #2, this should be a piece of cake- how do video games possibly take priority over chores when it was never on the list of things to do?
    Therefore, I argue that BSA does not lead to video games any more than the LDS church leads to pornography via Sponsored Support Groups.
    One other note on the logic- what happened to Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax was unfortunate, but can hardly be blamed on video games. This is a typical case of what psychologists call the "Bystander Effect", which also explains why people can stay in their homes, hear a scream from coming outside, and do nothing to see what the problem was. I don't believe that has anything to do with video games. In Brazil, for example, it is actually illegal and punishable to help anyone that comes to you begging you to hide them from anyone chasing them (i.e. a gang, or police), especially if they are medically hurt (you might accidently complicate the injury to what doctors might have been able to fix). Causes can be unwillingness to be involved, hoping if they ignored it that it would go away, assumptions of the man not being dead, but passed out and drunk (disbelief), Simply not noticing, being late for something, pride (think Good Samaritian), or some other situation. As for the sadist who took the picture with the cell phone, that could be one out of hundreds of people who passed by. For example, as you walk by a beggar on the street- do you pay him your full attention, or do you make eye contact and listen to his pleas? Maybe you're more generous than I, but mission experiences taught me that eye contact only causes trouble in a situation like this.
    Anyway, video games might lead to violence- it's certainly possible. But I don't see the connection from BSA to obesity and violence.
    Last of all, I don't think BSA will really ever die out. check out for an interesting presentation given on how practical skills fit in with our electronic world.

  5. (Before any blog readers wonder at the informality of this comment, know that Trent is my brother.)

    Wow, Trent. I am impressed.

    I never claimed there was a rigid, definite and catastrophic link from Boy Scouts to video games to obesity and violence to death. Here are a few quotes from the article:

    "And with requirements such as 'With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming' or 'Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games,' it is evident the new Video Games award is doing its part to limit cyberplay down to healthy levels and encourage gamers to stay in touch with non-virtual reality."

    "...the BSA wants boys to share with others and 'play a video game with family members in a family tournament' or 'teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.' And instead of sitting on the couch mindless and sedated, a Cub Scout should 'play a video game that will help [him] practice [his] math, spelling, or another skill' and 'list at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play [his] favorite video game.'

    And this one is from my earlier comment on this blog post:

    "I actually agree with what the BSA is trying to do. They are obviously promoting responsibility when it comes to video games, which is a noble effort. ... really, if boys meet the requirements for the Video Games belt loop, they'll be better for it."

    Once again, here was the point of the article:

    "I think mostly I was just trying to portray the silliness of merging video games and Boy Scouts together."

    That's all.

    But good job at being quick with an elaborate and thought-out defense. I'm sure Donkey Kong appreciates it.

  6. Oh, and I know what happened to Hugo Tale-Yax maybe had nothing to do with video games. Just proposing a theory, that's all. (I got the idea not because I'm out to eradicate the world of video games, but because I watch Anderson Cooper on CNN and he suggested it.) I know what the "Bystander Effect" is, and I'm sure that was more involved with Tale-Yax's death than video games were. I just brought it up because it was interesting and would make people think. And obviously it did.

  7. Your goal is to show the silliness of merging video games and Boy Scouts. My goal is to show the silliness of thinking that Boy Scouts is merging at all with video games beyond pointing out that some some responsibility is required. The same could be said about BB guns, Archery, etc. Yet BSA doesn't merge with BB guns, Archery, etc. They also have skating and basketweaving merit badges- yet when I think of skating or basketweaving, I don't think of Boy Scouts.
    That- and I'm bored at work.

  8. Contradiction: "I never claimed there was a rigid, definite and catastrophic link from Boy Scouts to video games to obesity and violence to death." vs. "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. — The Scout Law. And desensitized to violence. And morbidly obese."
    Here I realize you're trying to have a clever opening, but the fact remains that you said that a scout is a lot of things including "desensitized to violence" and "morbidly obese".

    Also- slightly less than half of the article is about the belt loop itself. The transition "But will he? Not likely." in its own paragraph is followed by the rest of the article full of negative facts and figures. This is where I find the article a non sequitur. If you are not saying that there is a link from boy scouts to video games to violence, why is 3/5ths of the article about the negative effects of video games? What, at all, do such studies have to do with the Belt Loop?

    Anyway, it's too apparent that I don't have enough to do at work, and I'll stop. I'm excited for you having the editor position! I guess if you don't get comments like mine, you're not doing your job right. Keep it up!

  9. It is just a clever opening. I mean a Scout certainly could be "desensitized to violence" or "morbidly obese." But not because he is a Scout. I was just trying to be funny.

    My transition "But will he? Not likely" is to transition to the dangers of video games, but not to transition to the dangers of the Cub Scout belt loop. I know discussion of the belt loop doesn't make up even half of my article. That was on purpose.

    So what did you think of my other articles?


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