Family-Friendly SXSWi Spotlight: ScreenBurn Arcade

SXSW ScreenBurn Arcade, Credit: Merrick Ales

ScreenBurn Arcade, Credit: Merrick Ales

Believe it or not, South by Southwest is right around the corner. The typical Austin parent generally falls into one of the following categories:

  • Leaves town to avoid SX/keeps as far away from downtown as possible
  • Brings the kids to all the events (these are usually the types who were at ACL 8 months pregnant or make it look easy to bring small children to Blues on the Green)
  • Books a babysitter or grandparents for quality adult time
  • Really wants to go, but doesn’t really know where to start…too much to see and do!

If you fall into the last category, fear not! We here at LiveMom are wading through the emails, websites and Facebook feeds to bring you the best of the family-friendly events. One of these is the ScreenBurn Arcade, which is a part of the Interactive Festival and provides a chance to see the latest innovations in the gaming industry. Here are the basic details:

Dates/Times: Friday, March 9th from 3-7pm
Saturday, March 10th from 12-9pm
Sunday, March 11th from 12-7pm
Location: Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road
Cost: FREE and open to non-badge holders

I was lucky to connect with Karen Ngo from the SXSW team, who gave me some great tips on how to enjoy the event with kids.

The fact that the ScreenBurn Arcade is at the Palmer Events Center instead of the Convention Center is huge, since it’s so much easier to get there and you can park in the Center garage ($7, and she doesn’t expect the lot to fill up during the day). As Karen pointed out to me, Sandy’s is just across the street (frozen custard break, anyone?) and Butler Park is a great place to take a break from what is sure to be a bit overstimulating inside.
AdvertisementThere will be a concession stand inside Palmer if your crew is running on empty and there are a few other eating options within walking distance, if Sandy’s isn’t your thing.

Karen recommends going Friday afternoon if at all possible to avoid crowds and on Saturday, the earlier the better.

Although the Arcade mostly caters to adults, Karen noted that there has been an increase in booths showcasing children’s games. Festival organizers have put thought into the layout of the event so that these booths are clustered together. If you are really worried about your kids seeing mature content, Karen recommends checking in at the ScreenBurn booth just to the left of the Arcade entrance and asking one of the volunteers to point you in the right direction.

Here are some booths you should check out if you plan to take your family to the Arcade:

  • Airy Labs – Kids ages 5-13 are invited to play test educational, mobile games,  to meet Airy Lab’s founder Andrew Hsu, to become an Airy Lab “junior scientist” for an hour and to pick up some kiddie swag. You can RSVP on the Airy Lab Facebook page to attend or RSVP for your child to be a game tester.
  • Draw a Stickman/ – Kids draw a stickman, which comes to life and goes on adventures (caution: addicting for adults!)
  • Gamestar Mechanic by E-line – Gamestar Mechanic enables kids to design their own games. The booth will feature live demos of student-made games, plus game-making stations ready for kids to build their own games. Hour-long presentations showcasing games kids have developed plus live game development will take place Friday at 5 and 6pm, Saturday at 1pm, 3pm, 5pm and 7pm and Sunday at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.
  • Settlers of Catan – In this board game, players are new arrivals to an island called Catan and build colonies by creating cities, roads and villages and trading with other players for sheep, lumber, bricks and grains, among other items.
  • Nukotoys – Nukotoys has announced the Spring 2012 release of its two launch titles, Animal Planet: Wildlands and Monsterology. Innovating a new category of toys that combine virtual and real world play, Animal Planet and Monsterology NUKO™ are collectible cards containing characters and items that magically appear in game Apps when tapped to the screen of an iPad™, iPod touch™, or iPhone™.
  • Spontuneous – The board game Spontuneous® challenges players to think of lyrics to songs they know and love. One person says a word and the race is on for the others to sing a portion of lyrics containing that word.
  • Game Over Videogames – Game Over Videogames, Inc. is an independent chain of used RETRO video game stores dedicated to the love of classic video games, systems, and accessories from Atari to Xbox.
  • graFighters – graFighters is a limitless playground for the creatures of your imagination. Draw your own characters and bring them to life, or invent new graFighters from user-generated parts. Play games with your characters and take them with you as you explore and build upon the handcrafted wilderness. Teach your graFighters new skills and watch their personalities develop over time, all while shaping the graFighters world and evolving its story with every decision you make.
  • Minecraft tee Meet-N-Greet - Mojang, the creators of Minecraft, have collaborated with SXSWi to host a meet and greet with Mojang’s Director of Fun from Sweden. The event takes place Sunday, March 11th from 12-12:45pm. Swag will be available.
  • Stormtroopers from the Star Garrison of the 501st Legion – will be at Palmer on Saturday and Sunday during the Bioware panel (see below).
  • A Lego “pit” – Check out this video to get an idea of what the pit looks like.

The Arcade will also feature panels. For older kids, Karen recommends the 2:00pm Sunday panel. Here’s the official description:

Bioware: Star Wars™: The Old Republic™
Dallas Dickinson (the Director of Production at Bioware) and the developers of the fastest growing subscription MMO will discuss the game’s launch and what’s coming next in a galaxy far, far away.

So hopefully, this list isn’t too overwhelming and at least gives you a starting point on how to experience part of SXSW with your family.

See you there?


Update: We went to the Arcade on Saturday. We arrived right when it opened. The kids’ booths were not clustered, as I had expected, so I’d recommend getting a program/map right when you arrive and sitting outside of the Arcade beforehand to plot your strategy. Many of the booths for kids are on the left side of the main doors. The event is dark and certainly loud and as I expected visually stimulating, so definitely keep that in mind for kids that can get sensory overload quickly. There are lots of folks walking around in costumes and you can get photos taken with them. The walkway from the garage to the event is covered, so no need for umbrellas, thankfully. The age range for many of the games is 7 and up, but my almost-6-year-old still had lots of fun for the two hours we were there. Lastly, there are a few booths with stuff for sale (stuffed animals, toys, etc.), so you might want to be prepared for that. Most of the events/panels are taking place Sunday, so if you go, go early and be ready for crowds.

Written by: Nicole Basham

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

3 Comments on Family-Friendly SXSWi Spotlight: ScreenBurn Arcade

  1. Well, you had me at “free” and “no badge required” but then you went on with more kid’s games added and Star Wars, so I guess I know where I’ll be next weekend.


2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. FREE Event During SXSW: Screen Burn « LoK Rocks Austin
  2. sxsw kids | Growing Up Austin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.