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Boy Scouts Award Gamer Highest Honour

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which recently turned 100, has awarded the first ever Eagle Scout title for a videogame-related project.

Even old and venerable organisations such as the BSA are starting to join us in the 21st century, with the Boy Scouts starting to support competitive gaming as a hobby.

Young Zach Hamber, a Boy Scout most of his life, contacted his Scoutmaster with an odd request; for his Eagle Scout award, he wanted to do a community project for gamers.

The Eagle Scout is the highest award within the Boy Scouts, recognised as a great merit when applying for job or pursuing a career. Prominent Eagle Scouts include the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

“More than half the effort was convincing the Scoutmaster and Committee Members,” Zach told IncGamers.”I didn’t want to have to beg for them to accept the idea, so it needed to be planned to perfection,” he said.

The reason for his worry is obvious. Gaming is generally treated as a ‘bad habit’ in media, and even though Zach knew he had very open-minded Scout superiors, the wording and angle on the project needed to be carefully chosen from a community perspective. The scope of the project per se was not as important; “I mean, other Eagle Scout projects have involved stuff like Chess tournaments or building bird houses, involving [a] very small part of the community,” he told us.

“I first tried to focus on justifying why StarCraft was a good choice, but my dad’s friend George who is a Troop Committee Member helped me, and said I should focus more on how my project benefits the community. They received my project very well they weren’t resistant to it at all they actually REALLY liked it, so I was just worrying for nothing. Once Elmer, who is a Council Committee Member, gave me the green light I was allowed to start.”

Physical sports as a hobby, played at any level, are well accepted in Western culture and the Korean interest in the original StarCraft is to us only a “weird Asian thing”. Americans think it’s weird to compare history’s biggest gaming scandal to the Black Sox scandal of the early 1900. However, letting people challenge each other in a mental arena has an important place in society – beyond Chess, Zach argued.

The Eagle Scout project was fired up about a year ago, when the first plans of a StarCraft II beta were rumoured. The plan was originally to make a series of video tutorials in the StarCraft II Beta, to welcome new players to the game and help them make it a proper hobby by playing competitively.
“But then there was this one massive problem,” he told us.”The beta test was postponed to the Summer of 2009, and then to 2010. I needed to finish the project before my 18th birthday to qualify.”

Thus many hours of planning had to be completely scrapped. A devastating blow to Zach, who still had to devote much of his time to school work. Zach told us he and his helpers “decided to make a tutorial article for StarCraft I instead.” The scope and quality of the project was very much diminished, but the concept idea was still there.He spent a lot of time researching competitive StarCraft gaming, contacting important StarCraft I players and formulating a guide for the basics of StarCraft gameplay that was centred around a professional game with interesting gameplay elements. With the help of StarCraft: IncGamers, he got the article published and out into the gaming community.

The post-project Scout Trial then judged the result. The result in this case includes not only the actual project outcome but also the Scout’s intentions as well as circumstances. “I gave them my project binder and they looked at it for about ten minutes before calling me in,” Zach recalled.”I was a little nervous because I had only memorized some of the Scout Test info that day,” he said with a laugh. There was no doubt about the project though; “in regards to my project I just felt proud.”

“I had some really, really good reactions from the trial. They complimented me and saying how its cool that there can be interesting projects like this for the Eagle Scouts. The trial is like half your project and half your experience of scouting.”

With the Boy Scouts recently adding gaming badges and even letting a scout complete his Eagle Scout – the organisation’s highest honour – in the name of gaming, it seems the Boy Scouts really are catching up with the interests of young boys today. Gaming is now becoming an integral part of culture, with millions of active gamers. The Boy Scouts’ initiatives are here to keep gaming responsible and active rather than a bad habit.

Zach’s project indicates increased acceptance of e-Sports by the BSA. Competitive gaming and playing games as an organised hobby might even become more common considering the increased social awareness of gaming. If young people put as much effort into their main game as they do their football or basketball practice, the over-all status will slowly change.

We finally asked Zach why he picked StarCraft to try and help competitive gaming. He said it’s “because I truly think that even though it’s 11 years old, StarCraft is the best of its genre and that’s why I have a passion for it. Its most balanced and makes a great spectator sport as well as a match of minds and finger flexibility.”

If you are interested in StarCraft II, make sure to enter our daily StarCraft II Beta Key Giveaway with keys being given away every day until they run out, or the beta ends.

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