The SXSW Gaming Expo is at it again this year, in a new, bigger location to accommodate the huge growth of this popular event! It’s happening Thursday, March 17 through Saturday, March 19, 2016, from noon to 8 p.m. each day, at the Austin Convention Center (south side — Exhibit Halls 1 & 2). This event is family-friendly and FREE with a Guest Pass (get yours here). That’s right — no badge needed to attend!
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.
What can your family expect at the Expo?
The Gaming Expo draws game developers, manufacturers, and fans from all facets of the community. As the epicenter of gaming culture at SXSW, there are so many attractions, it’ll be tough to take it all in! With an Esports Tournament Stage, Indie Corner, Videogame History Museum, Tabletop Experience, Free Play PC Arena, a Cosplay competition, plus plenty of unannounced hotspots, it should be a very exciting event for all ages and interests.
Who will be at the show this year?
This year’s exhibitors include Minecraft, Hasbro, Twitch, Insomniac Games, Alienware and many more. Check out the full list on the SXSW Gaming Exhibitors page.
Are there special sessions to plan for?
Check out the full schedule of events to see what’s happening at the Gaming Expo. Here are just a few highlights:
- The Geek Stage features content from the worlds of video games, comics, board games, animation, toys and more. You can enjoy panels, presentations, giveaways and signings, meet your favorite celebrities, witness never-before-seen footage of the latest products, and just generally geek out. These sessions will also be streamed via the Gaming Expo’s Twitch channel. Get more info here.
- The third-annual Gaming Awards show will unite industry professionals and fans in celebrating the greatest games the industry has to offer! The show will be on Saturday, March 19, at 8 p.m. at the downtown Hilton; just like the Gaming Expo, your Guest Pass will get you free entry to the show. This event will also be streamed via the Gaming Twitch channel. View the Gaming Awards finalists here.
- Dedicated to industry “tricks of the trade,” the Gaming Sessions will attract young aspiring industry professionals to the many panels, solo talks and dual presentations that focus on core industry-related issues within the world of video games, comics, board games, animation, toys and more.
What’s especially exciting this year?
The Gaming Expo is adding a VR/AR (Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality) track in 2016, in response to the overwhelming demand and growth of this technology. This hands-on exhibition, featuring a selection of the best new Virtual and Augmented reality technologies, will be held in Salon C at the downtown Hilton from March 16–18.
Some caveats about this year’s Gaming Expo:
While in past years, the Expo was scheduled to coincide with SXSW Interactive, this year, it will coincide with the SXSW Music conference. It will also overlap with the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. These scheduling changes may have an impact on several aspects of the event, including the fact that certain popular exhibitors like Nintendo will not be present this year, since they will be at the GDC instead.
There may also be more traffic–including foot traffic–to deal with in getting into and out of the Convention Center. Remember that MetroRail is one option for getting to the Convention Center without having to drive and park (although sometimes the MetroRail parking lots fill up during SXSW); click here for schedules and route maps.
Finally, as a note to parents, while there is usually a wide array of child appropriate games at SXSW Gaming Expo, there will also some adult content. Pick up a guide upon arrival to see which areas of the expo you might want to avoid.