Program teaches video game design to underserved youth


Oakland students have gone from being consumers of video games to now being developers. Take Reynard Mullins -- he's now using his art to create characters in the games he's learning to develop.

"I want to take my unique drawing skills, my unique type of style and I want to bring it into the world," Mullins said.

Mullins and others are part of a video game design program called Project A-Game at Youth Uprising, an outreach program in east Oakland. Now the program will expand to two years, giving young people a chance to get into an industry they've never really had access to.

"I'm learning how to design games so later on I could put my coding into it so when I get a job I'll know how to do it," Randy Phan said.

One of the organizations funding the program is the Entertainment Software Association, which represents about 20 video game companies.

"What the underserved communities can bring to the video game industry is a perspective that's unique, that would bring an entertainment product to those same communities," ESA spokesperson Michael Gallagher said.

Other companies are also donating state of the art equipment to the program.

"We want to make sure that you have access to that technology, so you have corporations like Zynga and employees in the game industry stepping up and building a bridge between us and them," Youth Uprising President and CEO Olis Simmons said.

Monday, the program was unveiled with the support of Gov. Jerry Brown.

"And when I hear that the jobs are $100,000 a piece, I think, well, let's get Oakland youth on a pathway to get into this kind of an industry," Brown said.

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