Our Great March Weekend (SXSW Gaming Expo 2015, Kate Edwards visit, ESA)

Death came to our booth! We gave him a Crowfall button.
Death came to our booth! We gave him a Crowfall button.

We had an exhausting but exhilarating weekend. This one will be a lot more personal, from my own point of view.

IGDA-Austin had table space on the floor of the SXSW Gaming Expo, continuing a presence we’ve had since it was a little bit of hopeful vibes called Screenburn. Thanks to Justin Burnham and Estevan Aviles for all the hard work in securing a space for us.

Jason Maltzen carried the load this time around, with Tess Snider and myself helping, and a steady cadre of volunteers and local developers showcasing their games and doing live work at all times. Thanks also to our volunteers: Tyler Barrett, Luis Martinez, Steven Uray, Neil Jones, Laura AngellLisa Hastay, Matthew Myers, Mary Rose Monkowski and Hunter Kent. Thanks to Ricky Llamas for all the pre-show help pulling together trailers and swag, and Drew Giovannoli for helping make contact with local developers.
Patrick Curry of Unity Austin plays COLOR THIEF as demoed by Issam Khalil and Cat Musgrove of Trouble Impact.
Patrick Curry of Unity Austin plays COLOR THIEF as demoed by Issam Khalil and Cat Musgrove of Trouble Impact.

Thanks to all our friends with projects to demo: Trouble Impact, Gather.gg, Ignis Studios, Panic Button, D-Pad Studio, Reed Erlandson, Esteben Zaldivar, Chad Stewart of Binary Solo, Gary Wagner of Warp 10, Brian Bonnet and Hidden Achievement. Having playable games makes every booth more awesome, and bonus if they’re fun!

We had some VGVN tees left over from last year, too.
We had some VGVN tees left over from last year, too.

We had more swag than ever in recent memory, including t-shirts from The Banner Saga and Pictodon (the latter actually having women’s sizes!), poker chips from Bee Cave Games, cards from WarGaming.net and Game Worlds Camp, buttons from Finji and two enormous boxes of Crowfall buttons from Art+Craft.

We killed one of those boxes, at least. Lots of people were walking the floor wearing them, many probably without knowing what they meant — but they looked cool. I think I personally said “Crowfall?” about 150 times between Saturday and Sunday.
There really were a lot of buttons.
There really were a lot of buttons.

Lots of curious people who assumed we were just another peddler of random software got a lot of good information about what we’re doing here, why Austin is great and why it matters that video games are made here. We can’t ever get it done without people coming together to help.

Drinks with the ED
Kate Edwards visited us! (Click for caption)

Having dinner and drinks on Saturday night at Black Star with IGDA Executive Director Kate Edwards was a real treat. Unfortunately, she didn’t realize that the Gaming Expo wasn’t running all week, so she apologized for not coming to see us at the booth, being, in her words, a “SXSW noob.” She was in town to give an Interactive speech on the future of “cyber war” on Sunday morning.

We gave her a good impression about what we’re doing here in Austin and in Texas, and got great conversation out of it.
Mike Gallagher, left, CEO of ESA, addresses the crowd at the Salt Lounge in iPic Theater.
Mike Gallagher, left, CEO of ESA, addresses the crowd at the Salt Lounge in iPic Theater.

On Monday, the Electronic Software Association organized a happy hour at the Salt Lounge in iPic Theater at The Domain, far away from the SXSW crowds. Jennifer Bullard, Jason, Tess and I made it, along with several friends and associates such as Issam Khalil and Cat Musgrove from Trouble Impact, Adam Creighton from Panic Button, Mike Panoff from Edge of Reality and Rich Vogel from Battlecry. Also, Geoff Yetter, until very recently game/animation liaison with the Texas Film Commission, who had finished his first day at Certain Affinity.

Highlights of the happy hour:
  • IGDA-Austin logo by Paul Russel, card layout by Mary Rose Monkowski, text by John Henderson.
    IGDA-Austin logo by Paul Russel, card layout by Mary Rose Monkowski, text by John Henderson.

    Mike Gallagher, ESA CEO, saying he’d had several pleasant meetings with Gov. Greg Abbott and Film Commissioner Heather Page, as well as several interested legislators about the state incentive program. Over the past week, he said no film industry representatives were there, putting some fears to rest about lobby efforts to separate film funds from everything else.

  • During his address to the group, he encouraged participation through the ESA’s Video Game Voters Network, and while talking about the TMIIIP incentive program, held up one of the white cards we had made to promote the program. This address was filmed and will air eventually on Youtube.
  • Geoff said he expects his old job to be back-filled eventually, but probably not until after the budget session ends in May. Makes sense, not to bring someone on when legislative support for all state agencies hangs in the balance.

Stay tuned for more events and stories to come throughout the year!