Texas is a state whose cultural exports to the rest of the world go far beyond line dancing, barbecue, and oversized hats. The Lone Star State has played an integral role in the growth and evolution of the now-gargantuan video game industry, as chronicled by the "Pong to Pokémon" exhibit at Bullock Texas State History Museum, which opened in July. Now, the museum is teaming up with SXSW Gaming and The Austin Chronicle to offer a glimpse at the future of the medium here in Texas.
On Thursday, Nov. 30, the Bullock Museum is hosting Game On, a one-day event showcasing more than 40 Texas-based game developers and their projects. Free and open to the public, the event gives attendees the chance to try out recently released and in-development games ranging from big-budget blockbusters to one-person passion projects running on anything from a cell phone to the latest virtual-reality rigs.
Game On has existed in years past as a collaboration between SXSW Interactive and the Chronicle to showcase mostly Austin-based developers and their games to the public. The Bullock Museum thought that taking the event under their wing with an expanded statewide scope would be a good way to complement "Pong to Pokémon"'s mission of increasing the notoriety of the Texas game scene.
"We were looking for different pop-activities we could have to get new audiences engaged with the exhibit," said David Munns, director of web and digital media at the Bullock and one of the event organizers. "We realized that [Game On] hadn't happened last year, so we wanted to provide a home for it, because we have space and we have an audience that's really engaged in gaming."
Game On's new home affords presenters and attendees more space than in previous years. The Bullock is providing a large warehouse space next door to the "Pong to Pokémon" exhibit for developers to set up their demos, allowing for more breathing room than when the event was held at clubs like the Empire Control Room. The more family-friendly atmosphere of the museum, as well as efforts on the part of event organizers to help out first-time players – such as having developers in-person to explain their games – should also ensure that Game On appeals to veterans and first-time players alike.
"We've broken down the barriers that make playing video games maybe intimidating," Munns said. "We're trying to create an environment with Game On where we have playable games where players of various levels of proficiency can approach and play and learn about them."
The event opens its doors at 6pm to anyone who registers online or at the door. The "Pong to Pokémon" exhibit will keep its lights on after-hours during the course of Game On for anyone wanting to take a little break from the present and stroll through gaming history. Don't worry about missing out on it during the event, though, since the Bullock Museum will continue to run the exhibit through March 2018.
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