OffBeat

Video games are the new Thin Mints: Girl Scouts add new badge for game design

When I was a Girl Scout, I earned badges for setting up camping tents, making jewelry, or volunteering at an animal shelter. But the newest badge to join the Girl Scout roster is for something slightly more technical.

The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles and Women in Games International (WIGI) have joined forces to create a video game developer badge.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a STEM-aligned video game badge for the Girl Scouts of the United States of America,” said Amy Allison, vice president at WIGI, in an interview with Girl Gamer. “Creating this badge will get young girls excited in technology and science and let them know that they, too, can have a career in the video game industry.”

The announcement of this badge comes shortly after the Boy Scouts added a Game Design merit badge in March — but why should they have all the fun?

Girl Scouts earn the game developer badge by working with Gamestar Mechanic, a “learning experience” that teaches kids how to design and develop video games. E-line media, the creator of Gamestar Mechanic, will work with WIGI to provide a custom-made program that meets the Girl Scout requirements.

The Girl Scouts formed a hundred years ago with the vision of empowering girls and supporting their physical, mental, and spiritual development. The organization led efforts to break girls out of traditional gender roles and give them the skills and confidence to achieve anything they dreamed. From the beginning, Girl Scouts were encouraged to try their hand at fields traditionally dominated by men.

In 2012, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education came to the forefront of The Girl Scouts mission and badge system. The organization completely revamped the badges by placing greater emphasis on STEM. This move followed a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute that found that 74 percent of high school girls are interested in STEM, but few pursue these careers because of perceived gender barriers.

The badges on STEM education are thus not only dedicated to the development of specific skills but also to changing girls’ perceptions about these fields and providing a safe place for them to explore, lead, and excel.

Selling cookies may earn money in the short-term, but the skills and desire to code? That pays off in the long-run.

Photo Credit: reconstuctionist/Flickr

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