Tag Archives: SXSW

Minecraft, Board Games, and Other Surprises at SXSW Gaming Expo

Last year, I attended the SXSW Gaming Expo, part of the SXSW Interactive conference. It was a lot of fun, and I even got a Minecraft T-shirt! If you missed out on last year’s festivities, no worries, because the SXSW Interactive, Film, and Music events will be back in Austin this March 8-17, with the SXSW Gaming Expo taking place from March 8-10.

Red 5 Studios at SXSW Gaming Expo 2012

Red 5 Studios at SXSW Gaming Expo 2012

You’d think that the SXSW Gaming Expo would just be video games, but one of the nice surprise activities I got to participate in was playing the Settlers of Catan – card game. This is a card version of the customizable Settlers of Catan – board game that has tile hexes and lots of pieces. One of the pros is that the card game can be played much quicker than the board game. The card game can run about 20 minutes but the board game can run about 2 hours.

Don’t get me wrong, the board game is great, but if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, it’s fun to be able to play a quick card game. The people demoing the game were very cheerful and helpful in teaching you how to play. I hope Mayfair Games will be back this year!

Playing Settlers of Catan Card Game at SXSW Gaming Expo 2012

Playing Settlers of Catan Card Game at SXSW Gaming Expo 2012

Last weekend, I played Kingdom Builder, which was a good board game. Depending on the victory conditions, it’s usually better to be spread your settlements out over the map and not just in one area. I liked playing the Dominion card game better since it’s more complex and has more strategy. Did you know that both games were created by the same designer, Donald X. Vaccarino?

I also played Samurai Sword, which is another hidden identity card game by the makers of Bang! I like the Japanese theme of Samurai Sword, but the mechanics of the classic western theme of Bang! is the best, especially since you have the risk of getting knocked out of the game. Both games are great with a lot of people.

Trying out one of the many game demos at SXSW Gaming Expo 2012

Trying out one of the many game demos at SXSW Gaming Expo 2012

There were lots of cool video games. Some were multiplayer games where many computers were all connected to each other so that you could play with and against other people. And the best part? I won one of the multiplayer games and was given a gift card! And how did I win? I was great at hiding! 😉

This year, there will be more fun video and board game demos along with the SXSW Gaming GEEK Stage, where Marvel Entertainment and Mojang will be presenting.  (Marvel heroes were a great inspiration for my Amazing Invasive Hunter Man and Native Plant Avengers videos, part of my Battles with Invasive Species video series. I also had a great time mapping invasive species at SXSW Eco last year.)

I hope to see you at the SXSW Gaming Expo in March!

Your friend,

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Filed under Bang!, Board games, Dominion, Kingdom Builder, Marvel Entertainment, Mayfair Games, Minecraft, Mojang, Samurai Sword, Settlers of Catan, SXSW, SXSW Gaming Expo, SXSW Interactive

Invasive Species Can’t Hide During SXSW Eco

Commander Ben and Ms. Jessica Strickland ready to hunt invasive species during SXSW Eco

I had a great adventure on Thursday when I joined Ms. Jessica Strickland, Invasive Species Program Manager at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, to help map the location of invasive plants along Waller Creek.

The special SXSW Eco “Green Army” event began at the Congress Avenue Kayaks building located at the end of Trinity Street in downtown Austin. The building is on Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) and Waller Creek. All the participants for the event gathered here before we headed out on our adventures. Mr. Justin Murrill, Global Sustainability Manager for AMD and coordinator of the event, welcomed us all and explained the importance of volunteer efforts like this to help keep Austin beautiful.

Commander Ben and Mr. Justin Murrill, Global Sustainability Manager for AMD at SXSW Eco Green Army Event

Some people were going to clean up the trash in the creek, others were going to make seed balls (which were going to be donated to Bastrop State Park to help replant their area after last years wildfires), and others—including me—were going to identify invasive species for future removal or containment projects.

Ms. Strickland and I found many invasive plants along Waller Creek including:

Pictures from the SXSW Eco Invasive Species Mapping

Photographing invasive plants against a white background makes them easier to identify later.

A photographer from the Austin American-Statesman snaps a picture of our tactical reports.

Invasive English Ivy begins to suffocate a tree along Waller Creek.

King Ranch Bluestem (KR Bluestem) at our feet. Unfortunately, you can find them all over Texas, especially on roadsides.

A close up of KR Bluestem. Alas. Their seeds spread easily.

Can you spot the Elephant Ear on Waller Creek?

You can run Elephant Ear, but you can’t hide!

Super villian team up: Elephant Ear next to Heavenly Bamboo

Here I am mapping Johnson Grass. Humm. For amount, where can I circle “beaucoup”?

I sense a disturbance in the ecosystem. Is the Giant Reed trying to sneak up on me again?

We had a nice audience of turtles during our great day of mapping!

All in all it was a great day!

Your friend,

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Filed under AMD, Austin, Austin American Statesman, Bastrop State Park, Chinese Privet, Elephant Ear, English Ivy, Giant Reed, Green Army, Heavenly Bamboo, Invasive Plants, Invasive Species, Jessica Strickland, Johnson Grass, Justin Murrill, King Ranch Bluestem, KR Bluestem, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Lady Bird Lake, Ligustrum, SXSW, SXSW Eco, Texas Invasives, Tree of Heaven, Waller Creek, Wildflower Center

My First Day at SXSW Eco with Foodies and Filmmakers

Commander Ben at SXSW Eco 2012

After checking in at SXSW Eco at the fantastic UT Austin AT&T Conference Center, I headed over to Rm. 103 to attend a talk titled Fighting Food Insecurity with Urban Agriculture in Austin…and guess who I got to meet? Ms. Addie Broyles, a food writer for the Austin American-Statesman!

Food in Austin

Ms. Addie Broyles and Commander Ben at SXSW Eco

It was neat to get to meet her because I have heard my Mom (the foodie in the family 🙂 ) talk a lot about her. Even though my blog isn’t about food, Ms. Broyles said she was looking forward to checking it out because she too has a budding filmmaker at home…her five year old son! 🙂

Clean energy

Ms. Griffin Gardner and Commander Ben at SXSW Eco

Next I walked over to Rm 204 to attend the Filmmakers Clean Energy Confab. I took my seat in the second row and that’s when someone in the front row turned around and said, “I know you, you’re famous!” It was Ms. Griffin Gardner, UT Austin Media Coordinator, who remembered taking a picture of me at the UT Austin Environmental Science Institute (ESI) Hot Science – Cool Talks event. I’m not sure if I’m really famous, but Ms. Gardner made my day!

Making great films for good

Mr. Steve Vogelpohl and Commander Ben at SXSW Eco

Next, as I headed out to lunch, I ran into Mr. Stephen Vogelpohl who recognized me from the Lights. Camera. Help. Focus on Good Film Festival. Mr. Vogelpohl is with Social Good TV. We talked about future projects we’re both working on, and he encouraged me to continue making great films for good.

Green army on the march

Today is the big day! As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I’ll join Ms. Jessica Strickland, Invasive Species Program Manager at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Dr. Damon Waitt, Director Native Plant Information Network; and an elite team from the Wildflower Center and the Green Army to map invasive species as part of the conference events.

Let’s find the Giant Reed (Arundo donax), Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta), and all the invasive plants that may be along Waller Creek in Austin, Texas!

I hope to see you there!

Your friend,

P.S. Tomorrow’s the last day to vote! Please vote for my SXSWedu presentation, “What Invasive Species Taught Me About Dyslexia”. I’ll talk about my great experiences with the Wildflower Center and Learning Ally too. Thanks!


Filed under Addie Broyles, AT&T Conference Center, Austin, Austin American Statesman, Clean energy, Clean energy, Damon Waitt, Elephant Ear, Environmental, Environmental Science Institute, ESI, Focus on Good, Giant Reed, Green Army, Griffin Gardner, Hot Science - Cool Talks, Jessica Strickland, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Lights Camera Help Annual Nonprofit Film Festival, Lights. Camera. Help., PanelPicker, Social Good TV, Steve Vogelpohl, SXSW, SXSW Eco, SXSWedu, University of Texas, Urban Agriculture, UT Austin, Waller Creek, What Invasive Species Taught Me About Dyslexia, Wildflower Center