SXSW Gaming Recap

Hi all! It's Wednesday and my fever's finally gone. It's been a rough 72 hours but I'm bouncing back! We still don't have Internet at the new place and I wanted to choke the technician who told me it may be another two weeks before we get wifi. How frustrating! I'm writing this post on my cell phone like a really, really long text message-- but with more pictures. It's alright though, I'm curled up on the couch with my tea trying to breathe through my stuffy nose and sore throat. Ugh con crud. Yuck!

From which convention did I catch the crud, you ask? Why South by Southwest of course! SXSW is a huge festival in Austin that has recently expanded to host a gaming branch in the Austin Convention Center. I saw many of the same big names from PAX South like Alienware, DX Racer, Twitch, and Logitech. I was also happy to see lots of local game shops represented like Emerald Tavern Games & Cafe. They had an entire section devoted to indie games as well which was pretty cool. I was helping run the Reaper Paint & Take event and it was crazy busy!

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Oh, right, before I get into that I should probably explain what the event is. At various conventions, Reaper sets up a portable shop (which is actually much bigger than you'd think!) and hosts a Paint & Take event, where convention attendees can pick a mini from around 8 pre-selected styles of Bones miniatures and sit and paint for free! Reaper provides various colors of paint at the table and we provide them with paper towels, parchment paper to use as a palette, and a brush. It's a great way to introduce people to tabletop miniatures and the joy of painting them. For most people, it's their very first time painting a miniature!

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While each participant usually stay about an hour, for some reason this con was more of a whirlwind than PAX. While I only have that one other con to compare it to, I noticed that SXSW had a LOT of little kids. And little kids have fairly short attention spans and only sit and paint for 15-20 minutes, which meant we were constantly turning over and cleaning up stations for newcomers (you wouldn't believe the crazy messes they'd leave!). I was pretty shocked at how many 3-8 year olds we were getting, some so young that they couldn't even hold a brush (he sat in mom's lap while mom held the mini and painted holding his hand on the brush-- too cute!) Then it dawned on me: it's Spring Break! All the kids are out of school and this was a family-friendly event that's only open 3 days. For parents looking to do something unique with their kids (since they probably already did the zoo and aquarium earlier that week), this was the perfect outing. My favorite part was the small pod of children gathered around the Minecraft booth with their eyes wide staring transfixed by the video screen. Adorable!

The convention hall was open 12-8pm and we worked every bit of that time. We did take turns inhaling food in the back of the booth before jumping back into the fray. Even with only one person down, it was a struggle to manage the people who were just arriving in line as well as clean up and prep the tables for people who were leaving and quickly seat the next people in line. The larger the party, the more difficult it is to seat them all together when every seat is taken and you're not sure how long it'll be until a large section opens up. Luckily, the Reaper team works well together and keeps moving like a machine! 

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So working cons isn't especially glamorous but it's personally rewarding to introduce so many people into our tiny world. And it's always a pleasure working with the Reaper team! Alright, I need to get to bed so I can kick this crud and get better already (plus my phone is dying and I need to go plug it in). I may edit & add more to this tomorrow, but I wanted to get something up Wednesday like I promised! :) More to come later!