OAKLAND - The last time now-Gov. Jerry Brown made any news to speak of about video games was in 2009 when, as state attorney general, he petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a state law seeking to ban the sale of violent video games to minors.
"California's children are exposed every day to video games that glamorize killing sprees, torture and sexual assault," Brown said in a statement at the time. "In the face of this brutal and extreme violence, I am petitioning the Supreme Court to allow the state to enforce its reasonable ban on the sale or rental of violent video game sales to children."
The Supreme Court sided with an industry group in 2011, finding the restrictions California hoped to impose violated their First Amendment right to free speech. The law never took effect, and the state paid more than $1 million in opposing attorney fees.
This afternoon, the Democratic governor attended a news conference at which the California Endowment and the Entertainment Software Association, an industry group, announced a video game design program for underserved youth in Oakland and Sacramento.
The games being developed, presumably, are not the kind Brown was seeking to ban. But organizers noted that ESA's financial contribution to the project - $150,000 of the $450,000 total, according to the California Endowment - would come from attorney fees paid by the state in its failed defense of the video game law.
"I think that shows the creative hand that I bring to the governmental process," Brown said at the event at Oakland School for the Arts, one of two charter schools Brown started when he was mayor of Oakland. "They won, they got lots of money. Let's pour it into our schools and kids, and particularly kids of color and kids that are low income."
In his remarks, Brown touted the value of technology in education, generally, and the $100,000-a-year salaries he said he hears the video game industry pays.
"Secondly," he said, "the combination of art, of gaming, of skill, technology, of aesthetic - that comes together truly as the aesthetic experience."
PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters in Oakland on Sept. 16, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders