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ESA using funds from Supreme Court win for Calif. youth game design program

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

The Entertainment Software Association, E-Line Media and the California Endowment are teaming up to establish a youth-oriented two-year game design program in Oakland and Sacramento, Calif., the organizations announced today.

Project A-Game, as the initiative is called, will give local youth the opportunity to build and run a game studio in their communities. It will be hosted at Youth UpRising in Oakland and at the Salvation Army in Sacramento. Project A-Game is designed to imbue its young participants with skills in science, technology, engineering arts and math learning (STEAM) fields, as well as experience with leadership, game development and mentoring.

Funding for Project A-Game is coming from the ESA, a U.S. trade body representing the game industry, and the nonprofit California Endowment, a private organization that advocates for healthcare in the state. E-Line Media, a publisher of game-based educational products, is providing "technical and logistical support," according to a press release from the ESA.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that the California Endowment is contributing $300,000 to Project A-Game, while the ESA is putting in $150,000. In addition, the ESA's contribution reportedly comes out of more than $1 million in legal fees that California had to pay to the video game industry, including the ESA, as a result of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. With that ruling, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a California law that would have made it illegal to sell video games to minors.

"They got lots of money. Let's pour it into our schools and kids"

California Gov. Jerry Brown (pictured above), the "Brown" listed as the petitioner who lost that court case, seems to bear no ill will toward the video game industry — after all, the money is going to a good cause.

"We had a good litigation. They won. They got lots of money. Let's pour it into our schools and kids and particularly kids of color and kids of low income," Brown said Monday afternoon at the Oakland School for the Arts.

"This is a positive and impactful community program that celebrates and advances the Golden State's spirit of innovation, especially in the wake of the state's misguided attempt to regulate video games," said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA, in the press release.

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