20 Fantastic SXSW Sessions for March 18
The second Saturday of SXSW 2017 offers lots of amazing content, networking, discovery and creativity. Remember that your Interactive or Film badge will get you secondary access to Music sessions and showcases — watch this short video to better understand the new system. All badges also have access to the incredible SXSW Gaming Expo on the first floor of the Austin Convention Center.
With this improved functionality in mind, the best of the best activities for Saturday, March 18 are as follows:
- Artist to Advocate: Fighting for Criminal Justice. How did a 25-year-old music producer become the national face for criminal justice reform in the U.S.? Weldon Angelos is the founder of Extravagant Records, a Utah-based record label that worked with Snoop Dogg (pictured above) and Jay Z. In this session, he will speak directly to the music community about his experience in prison serving an unjust sentence, and describe how artists can work together to achieve lasting reform. Scheduled for 2:00 pm in Room 18ABCD in the Austin Convention Center.
- Conversation with Mike Posner. Fresh off his 2017 Grammy nomination for mega-hit “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” singer-songwriter Mike Posner sits down with Lyndsey Parker of Yahoo Music to discuss his surging career and upcoming book of personal, introspective poetry titled “Tear Drops & Balloons.” Scheduled for 12:30 pm in Room 16AB at the Austin Convention Center.
- Conversation with T.I. Multi-platinum recording artist Tip “T.I.” Harris has won three Grammy Awards and has sold over 10 million albums in the US alone. On December 23, 2016, he released his politically charged album ‘Us or Else: Letter to the System.’ Tip was motivated to create this project after the series of deaths of unarmed black citizens at the hands of police including Sandra Bland and Philando Castile and our current political climate. At this session, learn more about his decision to embrace more politics in his music. Scheduled for 3:30 pm in Room 18ABCD in the Austin Convention Center.
- Crowdfunding Tabletop Games Meet Up. Come meet with veterans of the game industry to discuss how you can produce your tabletop game design, create a successful campaign to crowdfund your tabletop game, and how to sell the game into the market once you create it! Scheduled for 12:30 pm in Room 4BC in the Austin Convention Center. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- The Crowdsourcing Myth: Why is Direct-to-Fan a Bad Thing? In the Direct-to-Fan model, artists can not only crowdsource funding for projects, but they can crowdsource fans’ ideas and desires to create an experience and connection to artists like never before. Scheduled for 3:30 pm in Room 17A in the Austin Convention Center.
- Don’t Die: Suicide Prevention and Video Games. While some games are helping bring mental health/suicide story lines to the fore (Depression Quest, Life is Strange), there is a dearth of guidance from the suicide prevention field on helping games skillfully explore yet another set of taboos. Panelists will do a deep dive on the chasms between these disconnects, how to bridge them, and how to guide creators on making meaningful story lines that demonstrate safe messaging. Scheduled for 3:30 pm in Room 5ABC in the Austin Convention Center. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- EA Game Changers: Greatest Moments. Join industry leaders from Electronic Arts as they share the some of the top performing user generated content and community highlights from the Battlefield 1, Star Wars Battlefront, and Titanfall 2 campaigns. Scheduled for 5:00 pm in Room 6AB in the Austin Convention Center. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- Flatstock 59. Saturday is the final day of Flatstock 59, which displays the works of the world’s top gig poster artists. The event features posters of varying styles, colors and techniques for sale by the talented artists who created them. FREE to attend. Find all this spectacular artwork on the first floor of the Austin Convention Center, next to the SXSW Marketplace.
- Help Brands Help You. Whether local or global, a successful brand-artist relationship can elevate an artist’s profile, promote their music on a massive scale and create significant revenue from touring, endorsements, syncs and recorded music. That said, not all brand deals are created equal and it’s easy to be seduced by a quick buck today that may jeopardize their careers down the road. We will discuss the good, the bad and the ugly sides of brand partnerships and provide some quick tips to help you assess a deal. Scheduled for 2:00 pm in Room 17A in the Austin Convention Center.
- The Man is Dead: Rise of the Indie Developers. This session will explore the history of indie games, discuss the paradigm shift as game engines become more accessible, share personal experiences from developers in the trenches, advise those looking to become an indie developer or invest in them and generally share the business side of a dynamic subset of the enormous gaming industry. Scheduled for 5:00 pm in Room 5ABC in the Austin Convention Center. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo. At the heart of Apollo was the team who worked in Mission Control in Houston. They were born in the mid 20th century, a time of economic turmoil and conflict. Some came from farms and a lifestyle little changed for a century. Others grew up in a blue-collar America of mines and smoke stacks. This documentary film takes us from the faltering start of the US program, through their personal struggles, to the glories of the Moon landings. Scheduled for 2:30 pm at the Zach Theatre (202 South Lamar).
- Pokemon GO & Social Gaming Meet Up. Come join Nick Johnson, the first person in the world to catch ’em all in Pokemon Go, at the Pokemon GO & Social Gaming Meetup. Come talk Pokemon Go and what’s happening in gaming. Pokemon players, game developers, and anyone interested in social gaming welcome. Scheduled for 11:00 am in Room 4BC in the Austin Convention Center. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- (Re)Exploring Gaming for VR. Virtual reality has officially left the realm of Sci-Fi and established itself in the homes of people around the world. The imaginations of all sorts of artists have been captured by this cutting-edge technology, allowing for meaningful exploration of new storytelling and entertainment models. Of course, game developers jumped to the forefront early on! But the work has just begun. In 2016, we saw many great examples of existing game genres being translated into VR, but as much as gaming needed to be redefined for success on mobile, we continue to face the same challenge with VR. Scheduled for 12:30 pm in Room 5ABC in the Austin Convention Center. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- SXSW Art Program. Showcasing six immersive installations from a global array of artists experimenting with light, sound and emerging technologies, the SXSW Art Program features six installations located across downtown Austin. The selected works span the geographical gamut, including artists from Japan, the Netherlands, the global Hyphen-Labs team, and Austin’s own Raum Studios. Don’t miss out as Saturday is the final day the SXSW Art Program.
- SXSW Gaming Awards. Hosted by WWE star Xavier Woods and OMGitsfirefoxx, the SXSW Gaming Awards occurs at the Downtown Austin Hilton Hotel. Show starts at 8pm. Get there early to get a great seat at this action-packed event! Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- SXSW Gaming Closing Party. Taking place at the Monster Energy Outbreak House on 5th and Lavaca, the SXSW Gaming Closing Party is set for an epic performance featuring Norwegian EDM star Alan Walker, Luca Lush, and Feature Cuts. Doors open at 10:00pm and space is very limited, so don’t miss this great opportunity. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- SXSW Gaming Expo. Located on the first floor of the Austin Convention Center, the SXSW Gaming Expo offers an endless amount of possibilities for fun and entertainment. Buy your exclusive Gaming Wristband to be part of the action! Hurry, because this play-space closes for the 2017 season at 8:00 pm on Saturday, March 18.
- SXSW Marketplace. The first-ever SXSW Marketplace closes at the end of the day on Saturday. This exhibit brings together local Austin boutiques and hand-selected national/global brands to create a unique shopping experience at the epicenter of SXSW. No badge needed to attend. Located next to Flatstock on the first floor of the Austin Convention Center.
- The Star Citizen Community: A Crowdfunded Success Story. Star Citizen is the top crowdfunded project ever. But its success today never would have happened without a completely invested and passionate community that is helping mold and shape the game alongside the game’s designers. Join the Star Citizen community team as they discuss the process of building the ever-growing legion of Star Citizen fans and backers which currently stands at more than 1.7 million. Scheduled for 12:30 pm in Room 6AB in the Austin Convention Center. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
- Storytelling in Games and Animation. In the constantly-evolving video game industry, the balance between the needs of gameplay vs the very human want of emotional connectivity via story is an ongoing challenge for both developers as well as players. This session addresses the growing importance of story and character in traditional, as well as forward-looking gaming execution. Scheduled for 11:00 am in Room 5ABC in the Austin Convention Center. Open to all SXSW badges, plus SXSW Gaming wristbands.
Hugh Forrest tries to write four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts generally cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.