Spending a Day at the 2013 SXSW Gaming Expo

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When you hear the words “South by Southwest” you probably think music. Let me reassure you that there is indeed a plethora of music to be experienced here in Austin, Texas. But that’s not all there is to see at the annual SXSW, Austin’s own music, film, and interactive festival. Being that I live in Austin, I have the greatĀ privilegeĀ of attending various SXSW events every year. This year I decided to do something I haven’t up to this point: visit the free, open to the public, gaming expo.

Walking into the Palmer Events Center, I was on a mission to find any and all games on display that run on iOS and other mobile platforms. Of everything I saw today, there were two honorable mentions in this huge hall of booths: Draw a Stickman: EPIC; and the phone-controlled ball Sphero.

Draw a Stickman: EPIC

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Watching as Draw a Stickman: EPIC was demoed to my friend, I realized that this concept has not really been accomplished anywhere else. Being able to draw the character that you play as is simply amazing at first glance. Amazing, and yet also very creepy–like you’re able to bring the things you draw on paper to life.

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I haven’t had a chance yet to dive in to what this game is really about, but my initial impressions were positive. It’s available on a variety of platforms including iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. Draw a Stickman: EPIC is $2.99 on the App Store, but there is a free version as well if you want to give it a try first.

Sphero

There weren’t all too many games being demoed at the exposition that were solely iOS games. Notably of those targeted at iOS and Android devices, however, was Sphero. It’s not a game per-se, rather an application that allows you to control an ultra-durable plastic ball.

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The demo on display this year was simply a flat table with a few Spheros and a ramp. Various attendees were given iOS devices that were synced up to the balls, and I watched as people tilted the iPhones to roll the ball across the table at decent speed.

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The company told me that the ball can do many more things than just roll around though. They have videos on their website of the ball being used as an actual controller for other iOS games. Whatever the case, this is definitely a unique piece of hardware and it will be interesting to see what developers decide to do with it.

It wasn’t easy picking out these two booths in a room of thousands of people. Not only was the event packed, but there was a major League of Legends tournament happening and various gamers’ strategies were blaring in everyone’s ears. Regardless, I was still able to find a couple products that seem to have potential in the iOS and Android app realm, and I hope you enjoyed my–albeit minute–coverage.

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