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SXSW Gaming Expo Opens Today

Free gaming extravaganza continues through weekend

By James Renovitch, 9:00AM, Fri. Mar. 7

SXSW Gaming Expo Opens Today

The SXSW Gaming Expo returns to the Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Rd.) with three days of sensory overload that will beckon all local gamers like a dinner bell. Copious screens and controllers keep kids wide-eyed and veterans busy. And don’t forget the inaugural Gaming Awards next door at the Long Center on Saturday.

Starting today (Friday) the event continues through Sunday. with LANFests, game jams, Magic: The Gathering games, eSport tournaments on the big screen, and special guests taking the Geek Stage. Nintendo will be showing off Mario Kart 8 with actual carts in front of the building. The Video Game History Museum will probably keep some of the nonteen folks busy for a while. That’s in addition to the scads of exhibitors all vying for your attention with bits of swag and peeks at their creations. Happy hours take place every day for the parents who might need a drink by 5 or 6pm.

If playing games grows tiresome there will also be people talking about games at various panels near the expo. Highlights include Ernie Cline discussing his new novel, Armada today (Friday) at 12:30pm. Local panels covering topics like the relationship between paper-based and digital games as well as the debate surrounding narrative in games. The team behind Banner Saga will give attendees an inside look at its path from Kickstarter to release.

This year’s event also spawns the first SXSW Gaming Awards hosted by YouTube sensations SMOSH and iJustine. Check out the list of categories and nominees, because there will be winners to cheer and losers to mock or console depending on your disposition. This event is free and open to the public (although priority seating allegedly goes to badge holders) and takes place on Saturday, March 8, 7pm, at the Palmer’s neighboring Long Center. There will be new videos from Rooster Teeth and other web video faves as well as a performance from Cirque du Soleil. Since it’s their first year, expect the unexpected. But if we learned anything from people tripping at the Oscars or football stadiums losing power, we know that the unintended flubs are the most memorable parts.

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