At the end of October, The Austin Chronicle and SXSW Gaming teamed up together and fulfilled any Gamer’s wildest needs with a showcase of terrific and original indie games titled Game On Austin. Most of the presenters-if not all- were local Austinites who contributed in some way to the game displayed in their station. While the games made up for the HUGE impact of the event’s success, it was also the aura and party that Empire Control Room and Garage along with musical guests Monstervision and The Mysterious H brought that was also a contributor to the night’s festivities.
NOTE:* While this article is more of a review of the event itself, you can find our exclusive review-interviews with the developers of some of these games here.*
As far as how the actual event went, Game On Austin was perhaps one of the best community events I’ve ever been to. The sea of endless games and genres shimmered a web of glowing lights all around the walls of Empire Control Room-a venue particularly known for being a late night habitat for EDM weirdos and colorful characters all around.
I’ve only been to Empire a handful of times, but for anyone who’s wondering, Empire Control Room and Garage is a lot like Austin’s version of Houston’s club Kryptonite. While Empire may not be as notorious as club Kryptonite, this place usually houses your new-aged EDM gypsies, some of them young and others slightly matured, but never old. At Empire, I’ve been in numerous dance battles with white guys (one of which seemed like he could have possibly been trying to hit on me, there was definitely something being offered in some of those winks) who were drunk enough to conjure up moves that I thought I’d never see coming from team sour-cream, aside from Justin Timberlake. Having these colorful characters replaced with kids (ages ranging from 8-17) and the lower-gauged hipsters who typically stir about these ying-yangy foundries was just another thing that made Empire seem that much more weird and unpredictable to me. The absence of Empire‘s usual dubious denizens didn’t detract from the exciting aura that typically encompasses the happenings of the dim and dusk garage, and as far as I was concerned, the lack of weirdos (although they were certainly missed) added a new wildcard to the “Empire Experience”.
As I went from station to station playing games and interviewing developers my attention was suddenly cut short by an immediate distraction that I was totally unprepared for.While I was at Empire there was certainly ambient noise and music going on that filled the atmosphere, but up until this point it was just that: filler. But at a certain place and time the room stopped and all eyes and ears turned in focus to an 8bit-esque roar from an instrument so devious that it had to steal two identities- a Keytar.
Before my eyes stood a gruff-looking character unlike any artist that I’ve seen before . Once I saw the bond between his instrument and pretty rockin’ dance moves I thought to myself,
“of course…only in Austin…”
I snapped the picture above while his performance was at its one of many peaks (every perrfomance had about three “rock on” sessions similar to pressing that special* button on guitar hero) and remained in awe of this wizard-creature’s tame brutality, he was a beast all his own and Empire was his territory…at least for now.
Below is his awesome performance, enjoy:
Later on in the convention Monstervision took over the stage with their horror-bit sound , and it made me reminisce of playing Pokemon Red on Gameboy. If you don’t believe me on how similar they sound listen to this first and compare it with this:
[For a short clip of Monstervision shredding it at Game On Austin, click here]
All in all, the event was awesome and Empire hosted this group of geeky gamers wonderfully. Everything about the talent here reeked of originality, creative energies and innovations, from the musicians (The Mysterious H and Monstervision) to the Games and their amazing developers.
Games included in Game on Austin were the following:
Animal Phase: Lost in the Woods/Morning Coffee
Trouble Impact: Color Thief
Tiger Style Games: Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon
Ignis Studios: ClockWork
Saam Pahlavan: Disorder
Damon Chandler: RGB
Saam & Damon: Dag Blasted
Unello Design: Eden River
Owlchemy Labs: Dyscourse
Ghost Machine: Motorsport Revolution
Newmark Software: Hyperemesis Pizza
Central Core Studios: Central Core VR demo
Karakasa Games: Frankenfoods
Klobit: Capsule Force
Rusty Moyher: Astro Duel
Jason Rosenstock & Adrian Lopez-Mobilia: Torb/CodeSpells
Binary Solo: Stunt Mitch/It’s Not Me, It’s You
Sara Gross: #YAR (live illustrated story)
Deep Plaid Games: Lovesick
Center for Identity at UT Austin: Beat the Thief
Unfortunately we weren’t able to cover ALL of the games while we were there, but we tried!
As mentioned before, Digital Bounds has exclusive interviews with some of these developers and you’ll be able to check them out here:
Thanks to the Austin Chronicle for listing this event in the paper! If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t have known about this amazing event!