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Get Your Game Face On

SXSW Gaming Expo opens Palmer to the public this year

By James Renovitch, Fri., March 8, 2013

Get hands on with the Gaming Expo this weekend.
Get hands on with the Gaming Expo this weekend.
Photo by Jana Birchum

At first glance, it would appear that the South by Southwest gods have banished the Gaming Expo across the river, but for those who make the trek, it's an open-access fantasyland filled with games, parties, special events, and, well, more games. This year the gaming portion of the Interactive Festival has both changed its name (remember ScreenBurn?) and opened its doors wider, inviting the badgeless public not just to the expo but to the panels and parties as well.

Nintendo is the main sponsor this year, so more than a few Wii U setups will show off the system's capabilities. Like last year, there will be professional gaming tournaments, various stations for testing out the latest titles, and a hearty helping of booths filled with developers and organizations looking to impress attendees. There are roughly 20 locals on hand, so make sure you say hi and support Austin gaming.

The cosplay competition starts at 6:15pm Sunday, so make sure your hair is spiked accordingly and work on your best Link impersonation. (Get it? He doesn't talk! Nevermind.) Other free parties take place in the evenings with Alternative Press hosting on Saturday, and Nerdist and comiXology bringing Ra Ra Riot! to the stage to play the expo's closing night party on Sunday.

Get hands-on with the Gaming Expo this weekend.
Get hands-on with the Gaming Expo this weekend.

Many panels cater to developers and other industry types, but here are a few highlights for the rest of us: The lead designer of Media Molecule – the creators of LittleBigPlanet – show off their upcoming game, Tearaway. Lydia Winters, the director of fun at Mojang, shares the story of Minecraft, the little indie game that could – and did ... a lot. Marvel Entertainment, Tomb Raider, and Rooster Teeth will also be talking about all the cool stuff they do, so make sure you don't double-book yourself. Check the SXSW website for a complete schedule.

Heck, even if you aren't interested in all that awesomeness, there's going to be a four-story-high, full-scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope on the lawn in front of the Long Center. It's like the Hubble on steroids; you can't miss it. NASA is bringing telescopes for stargazing, offering tours of the universe on a giant display, and keeping various scientists and engineers on hand to answer your questions. There's even talk of a "world-record setting astronomy lesson." We don't know what that entails, but we're excited regardless.

SXSW Gaming Expo

Friday, March 8, 3-9pm

Saturday-Sunday, March 9-10, noon-8pm

Palmer Events Center

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