Screenburn Arcade Finds Its Audience

And it’s roughly 14 years old

Two aspiring game developers get started early.
Two aspiring game developers get started early.

If you’ve brought yourself or your kids to the SXSW Screenburn Arcade in past years and been unimpressed, this is the year to try again. The free and public showcase of gaming at its eye-frying best is having its last day today from noon to 7pm. Here are a few reasons you need to go, and bring the kids.

Previous years at Screenburn have always awkwardly split the difference between gamer paradise and convention stodginess. This year, to their credit, they decided to go make a jaw-dropping spectacle and leave it at that. I watched many kids walk through the doors, stop, and look around with wide-eyes as they try to decide where to start their over-stimulation. There are tons of screens and tournaments to get in on including many big name releases like Street Fighter x Tekken, Firefall, and the locally developed Starhawk. Walk all the way to the big screen in the back and join the audience watching the pros earning their money schooling people in games like Starcraft II.

If the influx of flashing lights isn’t enough to inspire you or your offspring both GameSalad and E-Line Media have booths that help get amateur programmers into the game-making biz. The E-Line Media booth was filled with grade-schoolers choosing not to play but create, and that’s no mean feat.

All in all, SXSW has finally turned the arcade into what it should be, a daylong escape into a gaming Valhalla. Something that when you walk back out to the real world you take a deep breath and try to figure out how you can get that overwhelming feeling of joy again. Or maybe that was just me.

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