Four days of independent games, free of charge
The first thing to know about the gaming arm of Fantastic Fest is that it's free and open to the public. Don't let that imply second-rate programming, though. In addition to the cutting-edge independent games playable in the arcade cabinets and on laptops are talks, films, and tournaments to keep your hands, eyes, and the coordination between them busy. The highlight for many will be Tim Schafer of Double Fine discussing the inspirations and origins of his seminal Nineties neo-noir game, Grim Fandango. Sunday's Starcade tournament (rebranded this year as Barfcade), hosted by Thu Tran of IFC's Food Party, precedes the awards ceremony. After three days of drinking and gaming, the only way to go out is with an A/V dance party to remember.
Fantastic Arcade takes place at HighBall and the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar Sept. 18-21. For more coverage, including an interview with Fantastic Arcade panelists Kyle Reimergartin and Ben Esposito, see austinchronicle.com/daily/screens.