During South by Southwest (SXSW) Gaming, Alienware, the hardware subsidiary of Dell specializing in gaming, had a three-day house that hosted gaming events. The aptly named, Alienware Outpost ran from Friday (March 15) to Sunday (March 17) night of the Gaming portion of SXSW and sent the festival off with a community Closing Party. I got the chance to attend all three days and had the opportunity to enjoy most of these events. During SXSW Gaming, the Alienware Outpost served as a great place to sit back, relax, and enjoy the gaming community outside of the convention center. With Team Liquid competing in League Legends, fan competitions, and more there was never a shortage of fun to be had.
On Alien Outpost’s first night, they hosted an early access party, with Microsoft. There, I got to be one of the first in the experience and got a chance to play some exclusive gaming previews which included Breach and Remnant: From the Ashes. There was also a panel focused on pop culture’s impact on gaming which was hosted by leaders from Riot Games, Red Bull and more. They divided the venue into two experiences, with live music on the patio of the building and Alienware PC gaming on the other side. The drink specials being fueled Red Bull was a great choice. This was definitely a great way to kick off SXSW Gaming and the weekend.
Saturday, there was an “NBA 2K League Draft Clash” which consisted of scrimmages between five protected/retained players from the 2018 draft class against five players selected in the 2019 draft. All gameplay was also streamed on the official NBA 2K League Twitch channel, giving fans a first look at five 2019 rookies, as well as five-star players from the inaugural 2KL season, two weeks before the 2KL TIPOFF Tournament. Watching these matches actually made me want to get back into 2K after seeing what they have done with crew mode in the past few years.
After the convention, the Alienware Outpost was the spot to be. Each night I made my way over after all the events had wrapped to meet up with some friends from the convention. I also got a chance to play the Virtual Reality game Raverunner, which is a VR rhythm game. I am not a huge fan of VR, but I love rhythm games and I was impressed with how much fun the game was. That being said, the game is also a workout as after one song and I was already sweating.
Overall, it was another fun night between the music, games, and friends. The Outpost also had a live gaming and music experience in collaboration with Vice featuring GroundIsLava, which featured special appearances from SypherPK and Alexia Raye. Getting to watch them was another highlight from Saturday night, I have known about and followed SypherPK for some time now so it was fun getting to see him and Alexia do duos on the big screen.
There wasn’t much going on at the convention so we spent pretty much all day at Alienware Outpost on Sunday. This allowed for us to attend all the events during the day and into the SXSW closing party. With a morning line-up, which began Saturday, I got to watch HungryBox of TeamLiquid play audience members. This offered attendees a chance to test their skills. HungryBox would pick people randomly from the audience through answering trivia questions or even just bring new players up to play against each other.
One thing I always enjoy about Pro vs audience gaming is you get to see the difference in the level of skill of pros vs audience members. Esports and gaming, in general, is the one area where anyone can feel they are just as good or even in some cases better than the pros until in traditional sports where just someones physical characteristics can set the pros apart.
Pros usually do dominate and just like here the HungryBox dominated audience members for the most part. They were playing Super Smash Bros: Ultimate and it was great listening to him talk about each character and go into details about the pros and cons of each along with playstyle while at the still time winning every match. I am not sure if he won them, but he didn’t come to close to winning all the matches I remember watching.
Another event that carried over from Saturday was the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) watch party. I even got to be part of the Team Liquid hype video. Sadly this fell flat as for some reason it was pretty much skipped on the broadcast and we felt bad for the people involved as it actually took them and us around 20-30 minutes to get everything set up for the video and then just got skipped.
At the end of the day Sunday, the Alienware Outpost hosted the official SXSW Cosplay Contest Finals. The venue was super packed as everyone started coming over from the convention that was closing up. There were plenty of amazing cosplays on display and it was quite impressive. Not only the quality of the contestants but also the number of contestants involved and the ability of the venue to highlight them all for people on the patio and inside away from the main stage to see. It went straight into the closing party afterward which featured music from Capyac. The venue was packed and people were excited.
The SXSW gaming convention was sadly a little disappointing this year between the size and massive lines just to get into the expo hall but the Alienware Outpost definitely made up for anything that lacking from the convention. I think I spent more time there than in the expo hall or any other venue across the entirety of the SXSW festival across the 10-days.
The team at Alienware and their co-sponsors did a fantastic job of incorporating gaming into your standard “SXSW House.” Between all the games available to play and esports available to watch, it was a great experience. With a location so close to the convention center, everything about the Alienware Outpost was perfect including the staff working the bar, games, door, and lines. If I had to pick one part of the festival to do over it would be attending the Alienware Outpost and I hope they make an even bigger splash next year.