SXSW 2013 Spotlight: Gaming Expo

We hope you have checked out our post on How to Enjoy SXSW 2013 With Your Family. We’re also running a few spotlights to give you more information about the family-friendly events which are coming up during SXSW. Have a great SX!

One of the family-friendly events taking place during South by Southwest Interactive is the Gaming Expo. The event is free, open to the public and does not require a badge.

Free Fun In Austin continues to highlight Austin area locations and activities that may not be available at this time. We encourage you to take all safety measures to keep yourself and your neighbors safe. It is our hope that the stories and features on this site will help inform your plans in the future.

The Expo will be open Friday, March 8 from 3-9pm and Saturday and Sunday, March 9th and 10th, from noon to 8pm. The event takes place at the Palmer Events Center which is located 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin, Texas 78704. Parking is $7 and is located at an attached garage with plenty of spaces.

The Expo (formerly called ScreenBurn, which we wrote about last year) is a three-day tribute to the gaming culture. Here are some of the aspects of this year’s event which are particularly family-friendly:

  • On Friday from 3-9pm, learn to play Magic: The Gathering and get a free deck.
  • A presentation by NASA at noon on Saturday called NASA’s Got Game, showcasing how the agency is using game design techniques in the space program. This session is presented in conjunction with the HUGE NASA telescope installation that will be outside in between the Long Center and Palmer.
  • Saturday from 1-1:45pm, Minecraft fans and parents who might want to learn more about the game can attend Crafting a Success: The Story of Minecraft.
  • On Sunday from 2-2:45pm, parents whose children watch Annoying Orange can get some insight into the show at the From YouTube to Global Sensations: The Ap”peel” of Annoying Orange session.
  • Nintendo is sponsoring the Gaming Expo this year, and will be showcasing their brand new console, the Wii U, as well as the Nintendo 3DS. Check this out for more info about unreleased games you will be able to play there.
  • Similar to last year, there will be a LEGO activity installation outside the exhibit hall.
  • Returning Sunday evening will be the now annual Cos-play competition (people competing wearing costumes of game characters).
  • Exhibitors from last year who are returning are, who designed the Draw a Stickman app my son loves and Mayfair Games (which makes board games such as Settlers of Catan). Other booths which look interesting are: 
    • Globalaria, which is a game development program based at East Austin’s College Prep,
    • Royal Pinata, which has an interactive bricks lab and
    • Steve Jackson Games, which features board, card and RPG (role-playing) games.
  • LANFest is returning for kids to come play their favorite PC LAN games on the exhibit floor.

The main caveat about attending is that, of course, some video games are really geared towards adults and can be too scary, loud and violent for kids, particularly younger kids. You could grab a program, steer your kids towards the LEGOs and decide which areas at Palmer you will target, or just be good about steering clear of these booths and games. Some booths will sell toys and other souvenirs, so be prepared in case your kids ask you for something!

If you make it, let us know what you thought in the comments!

A recovering workaholic, Nicole Basham now spends her time rediscovering Austin through her 6-year-old son’s eyes. A soccer-playing mom, Nicole also enjoys tickling too close to bedtime, making and consuming baked goods, and being silly. You can also find her writing at LiveMomSavvy Source for Parents and CultureMap.

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