The 2018 SXSW Gaming exhibit hall has, against all odds, become even more jam-packed full of cool stuff to see, play, and put on. Alas, there just isn’t time to do all the things and walk away from the event conscious.
Good thing we scoured the expo floor to bring attention to the coolest things you’ll find at SXSW Gaming through Saturday, steps tracker not included.
Victrix shows off their Armed Forces-inspired headsets
It’s hard to get excited about the number of “pro gamer” headsets floating around these days. Every brand seems to be screaming at the top of their lungs to tell consumers about features they just don’t need.
I can legitimately say that Victrix Gaming have a headset that is unlike any other.
Showcasing their Victrix Pro AF at their booth, the headset is perfect for competitive gamers and the loudest of LAN parties. The secret to this headsets’ unique set of features is the mechanical microphone filter, the same used in United States Air Force’s Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopter.
On top of that, the Pro AF features a noise-cancelling mode called “Active Noise Cancelling” that, with the press of a button removed all outside noise around me. I actually felt like I was sinking into the floor as the mode was active. In short: It was incredible.
The Victrix Pro AF is available for pre-order now at shop.victrixpro.com.
Houston Outlaws up the ante with fan-focused booth
Overwatch League is in full-swing and while Austin doesn’t have a team, the Houston Outlaws are more than willing to invite Austinites into the fold. The team’s fan experience booth is hard to miss, adorned in the team’s black and neon green color scheme and absolutely dripping with free merchandise.
Players brave enough to stand in the long lines were able to play in skirmish matches against each other for the chance at a limited-edition swag bag. While the team isn’t present at the booth, fans can gather there on Saturday night 5-7 p.m. to watch the Outlaws take on San Francisco Shock in season play, streamed live from the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles.
The Exploding Kittens merch machine gets… Weird
Many are familiar with the work and art of cartoonist Matthew Boyd Inman, better known as The Oatmeal. His work has also crossed over into the realm of board games with Exploding Kittens, Bears versus Babies, and other absurd -- and absurdly fun — games.
So maybe it doesn’t come as a shock that the Exploding Kittens booth at SXSW is a giant, furry vending machine with mysterious arms holding signs that assist attendees in buying cool games.
One woman, Laurie Maccini, 50, from Austin went through the line multiple times and received such gifts as… A bundle of asparagus? “I got it for a dollar. Honestly, it’s a better deal than you’ll find anywhere else,’ she replied after her experience at the booth. Enjoy?
Mobile esports takes the center stage
What was in a separate room all by itself last year, the SXSW Esports Stage is now dead center in the exhibit hall, making it a hard attraction to miss -- or avoid. Friday saw top teams from the hit mobile game Clash Royale compete in an invite-only tournament, fighting for bragging rights in front of a crowd that was full almost the entire day.
Saturday sees an open tournament take place, which will be streamed live on Twitch.TV for all the world to see. Registration is free and the event begins and noon. For more information, go to twitch.tv/sxswgamingesports.
A different kind of VR experience
Radical Empathy’s virtual reality experience “Trapped: A VR Detective Story” is different from the other booths promising a radical VR experience. Attempting to raise awareness of and generate empathy for victims of human trafficking, “Trapped” has attendees strap on an HTC Vive headset to experience an interactive narrative that teaches how to recognize warning signs for human trafficking.
The experience was a SXSW 2017 Finalist Showcase winner, as well as winner of Best In Show at the 2017 Austin Game Developer Showcase. President Billy Joe Cain hopes to use “Trapped” as a teaching tool in schools, as well as draw corporate sponsors to help support their cause and mission.
For more information on Radical Empathy and “Trapped” visit www.radicalempathyfoundation.org.