Maxwell’s Picks For The Top 15 Interactive Sessions In Austin

March 18, 2014
Maxwell’s Picks For The Top 15 Interactive Sessions In Austin

Oh My Disney & Mondo present "Nothing's Impossible"
Seriously, this year's SXSW is really convincing me that I can only stare at the drab, olive green walls of my apartment for so long - especially when Mondo artists are out there creating art based on Disney movies that should absolutely be in my house. Held at the Mondo Gallery on Guadalupe, there was a ton of anticipation among my fellow Mondo fans (I had to ask Intern Greg to stand in line overnight to guarantee that we could get in). We were all hyped about seeing art inspired by decades of Disney history, based on some of Mondo's previous themed shows (they've hosted some killer Game of Thrones stuff), Intern Greg and I were mighty excited to see what was in store for us. It was great seeing classics like Sleeping Beauty represented, but (and I didn't know this), there's still a lot of affection for unloved features like The Black Cauldron, something Intern Greg was happy to spend breaking down for me in terms of how the film differed from the book.

Golden Age of Tabletop Gaming
Table Top host Boyan Radakovich really knows his stuff, which was why it was a pleasure to listen to him talk about some of the reasons for the resurgence of tabletop gaming in the era of online multiplayer.Remember what I was saying earlier about trash talk at LAN parties? It's a little like that - there's something infinitely more personal about sitting next to or across from another gamer, and creating a community around game nights. I won't write about my own weekly gaming nights here (Intern Greg will never stop asking to get invited if I do), but it's a nice kind of ritual to pull out the Settlers of Catan box or try something new like Dominion and learning how to play as a group.

How To Win The Internet In 60 Minutes With Funny Or Die
Look, I already know how to be funny, but the Funny or Die team came out to tell me how I could do it on the Internet for money. Kind of. This session with some of the video site's creative types was as informative as it was jokey. "Joke-formative," if you will. Basically, it was a chance to listen to them talk about the best ways to capture eyeballs in a space where potential viewers' attention spans are divided between their social networks, the cat video their friend sent, and a listicle about the hidden Illuminati symbols in Silver Spoons. (Spoilers: it involves having punchy, easily share-able content).

We Are Player 1: Diversity in Gaming
While I couldn't get a discussion going about the challenges facing porcine Americans in gaming going, this panel about diversity in game design and development was still a breath of fresh air. Let me get real here for a minute: when I was a piglet, I never once saw someone like me in games or ever read about anyone like me making games. No offense to Intern Greg, but most games seemed to target, be made by, and about young white dudes like him (no offense, Intern Greg).So it feels kind of good to know there are others out there looking to broaden the horizons of what games (and the game audience) looks like.

Filmmaker Pre-Fest Pitches
Let me set the scene for you: a small, Kansas farm. Winter. An elderly couple drives their truck home from the city when suddenly, something slams into the ground next to the road. Investigating the crash site, the man and woman find a piglet inside, swaddled in blankets adorned with a stylized "P." That piglet, the last survivor of a strange, far away world will grow up to be the mighty Power Ham! Oh, I have Intern Greg telling me this session was so that filmmakers with movies already in the fest could come out and pitch their films to the audience. So... let's just pretend you didn't read that last part...

How Twitter Humorists Landed Sweet Real World Gigs
I don't tweet. After a disastrous week of letting Intern Greg handle my Twitter profile, getting banned, then having Intern Greg's personal Twitter account suspended, I realized that maybe I need more than 140 characters to explain myself. So I'm astounded that there are people out there who've gotten writing jobs from their tweets. I've heard of Jenny Johnson and Megan Aram before, and it's kind of awesome/insane that they were able to parlay short jokes about their lady parts into lucrative writing deals with shows like Parks and Recs and, in Johnson's case, a whole book deal. Basically, you have to treat tweeting like a full-time job, delivering piles of gold at a 140 characters a pop if you're going to make it big. It's got me thinking about starting up my old account again - this time without Intern Greg.

Beyond the Cutscene: Designing "That Dragon, Cancer"
For once, Intern Greg and I agree on something: we hate cutscenes in games. While I feel that they're an unwelcome stretch of inactivity for the player and Intern Greg says that he hates all of the stupid story stuff, we both agree that they're got to be a better way. That was the thinking of That Dragon, Cancer developers Josh Larson and Ryan Green who wanted to discuss ways game makers could create more active options for delivering "stupid story stuff." Now, That Dragon, Cancer is specifically a story-based adventure game, and Green and Larson have good reason to want to discuss ways other than big-budget CG cutscenes to develop the plot, but it's still a relevant issue when you're taking anywhere from two minutes to twenty (thanks, Kojima), to tell the player what's happening in your game world.