The Austin Chronicle

South by Southwest ScreenBurn Arcade

Holy crap! It's free! OMG! PARKING!

By James Renovitch, March 2, 2012, Screens

If you didn't splurge on that Interactive badge this year, that doesn't mean you have to live vicariously through the copious blogs and tweets about the event sprinkled over the Internet – at least not for the gaming portion of the Festival. The free and public ScreenBurn Arcade, relocated this year from the Austin Convention Center to the Palmer Events Center (900 Barton Springs Rd.), runs March 9-11 and has booths, gaming stations, and events. Even more appealing is the ample parking in the attached garage. No more riding around Downtown with game-hungry kids in the car while you try to not kill SXSW pedestrians.

See the full schedule of events at, but here are a few highlights:

Gaming's academic sister Jane McGonigal will be at her booth now and again giving out a limited number of her latest book, Reality Is Broken, and sharing her secrets on making your life SuperBetter. We're not sure what that entails exactly, but McGonigal's a SXSW veteran, so we trust her.

Bring the aspiring game designer in the brood to the E-Line Media booth and start making your own video game on the spot. Play games made by local kids if you need help getting inspired. Recommended for kids between the ages of 7 and 15; no registration required.

BioWare will be showing off its locally developed release Star Wars: The Old Republic, and LightBox Interactive will discuss Starhawk, a strategy-oriented space Western being released for the PlayStation3 this year.

For those of you not as interested in playing as you are in watching the professionals at play, look out for tournaments pitting the nation's best against one another. The brand-new Street Fighter X Tekken as well as the slightly older if a bit wiser StarCraft II will both be played to perfection to see who comes out on top.

Come dressed as your favorite video-game character and vie for the title of best costume in the cosplay competition. The event takes place on the last day of the arcade, but contestants must sign up on either of the previous days.

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