Scouts Design Games At The Winter 2016 Balboa Oaks Merit Badge Midway

Several times a year I volunteer at a local merit badge midway to run a workshop for the game design merit badge that I helped to create for the Boy Scouts of America. Last weekend I ran two sessions of my three-hour workshop at the Balboa Oaks Merit Badge Midway in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, and as with every time I’ve run these workshops, I was impressed with the wide variety of games these young men designed.

My workshops always begin with a Socratic-dialog-heavy talk about the various elements that comprise a game, the different ways we can describe a game’s play value (what makes it fun to play), and how intellectual property rights apply to games. I then do an exercise with the boys in making changes to game rules to see what effects those have on players, using set of Spider-Man tic-tac-toe sets.  (You’d be amazed at the number of variations on tic-tac-toe the scouts have come up with over the past couple of years).  With each of these topics, the scouts satisfy various merit badge requirements.

The more advanced (and most fun) requirements involve the scouts proposing a game concept, and once I approve it, prototyping their game and playtesting it with other scouts.

Here are some of the games the scouts designed last weekend.



Lucky 80
by Spencer, Troop 1

Vision Statement: A 2-8 player dice game in which players roll four die until they get 80.

Play Value: To test peoples luck, and challenge your self to play and test your gambling skills.

Set-Up: 2-8 people can play.


  • Each player takes turns rolling the four dice and put how many points they got on a sheet of paper
  • Each player repeats until one of them reaches 80, but if you roll the dice and they add up to 13 you lose a turn (13 is an unlucky number)

Resolution: The player who gets 80 points wins

Resources: 4 die.


by Robert, Troop 805

Vision Statement: Empire is a board card for 2-8 players competing to build the best metropolis.

Play Value: Competing against other players, building a city


  • Lay out cards in a rectangle
  • Your choose your career: sailor, engineer, soldier, mountains, ocean, each with different abilities


  • You get 1 Credit every time it’s your turn
  • There are 4 types of land forms — Mountain, Ocean, Forest — each with a different cost
  • You can gain one of the following items when you take down a different land form — Ammo, Wild Cat, Wild Dog, Damage x2 — each with a different cost and damage
  • There are four types of cities — City, Airport, Skyscraper,
  • Metropolis — each with a different cost
  • There are 8 types of weapons — Combound Bow, Shotgun, Sword, Revolver, Uzi, Long Sword, AK 48, Mini-Gun — each with a different cost, damage and ammo


  • When time runs out, the player with the best city wins

Resources: Credits, time, and health


Epic Face Adventure
by Danny, Troop 10

Vision Statement: Epic Face Adventure is a single player electronic game in which the player has to make it through 3 different levels of gameplay without dying

Play Value: Fantasy, jumping and running, killing monsters, getting gold, challenge

Resources: Gold


by William, Troop 911

Vision Statement: Hookie is a single player electronic game, where the player avoids school for 20 days (20 levels by finding specific items throughout their house before their parent comes home. The items are designed to help the player convince the parent they are still sick.

Play Value: The game will be enjoyed by kids who like to play hide and seek type games. Players will be challenged to find specific items around the house in a timely manner. They can play solo or against others

Set-Up: Players start in bed on the first day, and are provided a list of items to search for around the house.

Progression: Using the computer arrow keys the player, move about the house. Each level has a time limit of 3 minutes and each day the items become either more difficult to find or more in number.

Resolution: If the parent comes home and the items have not been found they lose. Once they lose 3 times the game resets to level 1.

Resources: Days remaining, items found


by Christian, Troop 555

Vision Statement: A player vs. team board game in which the team has to take a treasure from a lost temple while avoiding the single player.

Play Value: This game will be fun because the team has to work together to outsmart the single player and sometimes make amendments to their plans.


  • The single player/Phantom decides where the treasure is and where he starts.
  • The team/explorers shuffles their cards and takes six of them while still having their own condition cards (condition cards are two-sided cards with one side saying awake the other saying possessed. Explorers can use these to keep track of who’s awake and who’s possessed.)

Progression (Explorers):

  • The explorers have 50 turns to take the treasure and bring it out of the temple
  • The turns go: 1st explorer, 2nd explorer, …, and Phantom
  • The explorers use cards and dice to move or they can stay/rest and draw 2 new cards
  • A player can pass/wake another explorer that is possessed
  • Once the treasure is taken, the explorers have to get out of the temple as fast as they can
  • The explorers can pass each other and give the treasure

Progression (Phantom):

  • The Phantom has to stop the players from getting away with the treasure
  • The Phantom uses a 6-sided die to get around and can go through walls
  • The Phantom can pass/possess explorers, putting them under his/her control
  • The Phantom moves the possessed after his turn using a 6-sided die


  • The game ends when the team escapes,all are possessed, or the explorers run out of moves
  • If the explorer makes it out with the treasure they win; otherwise, the Phantom wins

Resources: pawns, cards, treasure


Red Square
by Jonghun, Troop 1

Vision Statement: Red Square is a single-player electronic game in which the player is a e: red square that must avoid blue balls and collect yellow coins to reach the end of each level.

Play Value: Challenge

Set-Up: The player spawns in at the beginning of the level as a red square.

Progression: The player uses arrow keys to avoid blue balls and collect yellow coins.

Resolution: The player must reach the end of each level.

Resources: Coins


As always, the scouts were very inventive, given the limited resources and time they had available.  Even better, they were not only proud of the games they made, they really enjoyed playing other scout’s games.  After all, as I explained to them, creating fun experiences for others to enjoy is what game design is all about.



About David Mullich

I am a video game producer who has worked at Activision, Disney, Cyberdreams, EduWare, The 3DO Company and the Spin Master toy company. I am currently a game design and production consultant, a game design instructor at ArtCenter College of Design, and co-creator of the Boy Scouts of America Game Design Merit Badge. At the 2014 Gamification World Congress in Barcelona, I was rated the 14th ranking "Gamification Guru" in social media.

Posted on March 7, 2016, in Game Education and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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