Pocket Gamer's SXSW 2016 show guide

30th anniversary stellar lineup delivers political powerhouses, industry icons, celebrities and surprises

Pocket Gamer's SXSW 2016 show guide

SXSW is celebrating 30 years of creatives coming together in a convergence of technology, gaming and the arts with over 550 inspiring sessions, screenings and shows.

Here is just a small sampling of what is being offered.

Obamas to Keynote

Kicking off SXSW Interactive this Friday, March 11 in Austin, Texas, US President Barack Obama will be delivering the opening keynote with a call to action for the technology industry to work together to further civic engagement and solve complex global problems.

The onstage interview will take place in Dell Hall's Long Center and can be viewed live at 2:30pm CT and in the Austin Convention Center 18ABCD.

Ticket details are available here and you can ask the President questions by submitting them here.

Wednesday, March 16, First Lady Michelle Obama will discuss how to create a greater sense of purpose and her Let Girls Learn initiative which is breaking barriers for 62 million girls around the world.

From VR to the Self Driving Car

SXSW Interactive (March 11-15) speaker roster includes a stellar lineup of iconic founders (Nolan Bushnell, Biz Stone, Stewart Butterfield, Max Levchin, Steve Jurvetson, Steve Case), the leading press (Pete Cashmore, Ben Lerer, Dan Rather), industry influencers (Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, Brian Solis), and the unexpected (former Apple CEO John Sculley and the Winklevoss twins).

Hot topics include Google's self-driving car, How fashion is making tech wearable, When your photos are the news, Comedy is the new journalism, and hidden gems abound including Headspace's Andy Puddicombe on the elusiveness of happiness and Fortune's John Birger on Date-o-nomics.

There will be drone holograms in the DJI Phantom 4 Lounge and AR VR, 3D printing, privacy and security advancements in connected devices at the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards.

Filmmakers, rock stars, sports heroes and top chefs

SXSW Music (March 15-20) will feature the legendary rock duo Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo in conversation with USA Today's Mike Snider and a special keynote from David Bowie's producer Tony Visconti.

Performances include Deftones, Chvrches, Third Eye Blind, Mike Snow, Robert DeLong, ODESZA, GRiZ, The Kills, The Strumbellas, Wyclef Jean, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Chromeo, TOKiMONSTA, Vince Staples, MSTRKRFT, Yacht, Peaches, Santigold, Lukas Graham, Blood Orange, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, Deap Valley, Head and the Heart, Alice in Wonderland, Jake Bugg, White Denim, Loretta Lynn, Snoop Dogg and possibly, with the biggest acts to be announced.

If you're into celebrity spotting, gracing the red carpet at the SXSW Film Festival (3/11-19) will be Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ethan Hawke, Nicolas Cage, Judd Apatow, Kirsten Dunst, Zoe Kazan, Richard Linklater, Tony Robbins and Burt Reynolds.

Luke Wilson will be making an appearance at the Showtime Roadies House and Tracy Morgan is headlining the Funny or Die showcase at SXSW Comedy.

JJ Abrams, Christian Slater, Ellen Page and Geena Davis will be taking the stage to talk about their platforms and projects, and Ken Burns will be talking with Henry Gates on race relations in America. Wrestling champ Ronda Rousey, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and Golden State Warriors exec Kenny Lauer will be at SXSW Sports.

You'll be licking your chops at Southbites with Anthony Bourdain and the VICE Munchies podcast. Keep an eye out for free sponsored BBQ and an epic food truck park at 604 Driskill.

Gamers Unite!

SXSW Gaming (March 16-19) will be free and open to the public.

At the show, Greg Miller and Telltale Games will be unmasking Batman, Curse and Twitch will be hosting a $25,000 Super Smash Bros tournament, Sonic will be turning 25, and there will be appearances by YouTubers Naomi Kyle, Rooster Teeth, Defy Media, Smosh Games and possibly PewDiePie, who's been nominated for SXSW Gaming Awards Most Entertaining Online Personality.

Top sessions for mobile game developers include MobCrush's The Future of eSports is Mobile, Wikimedia's Legality of Let's Play Videos, King's It's All in the Details, and Vlambeer, Devolver and Google Play's Surviving Indie which Pocket Gamer recently previewed.

Listen to the Road to SXSW podcast as Google Play's Kellee Santiago provides sage advice on how indies can get their games funded and featured.

Texas or bust!

If you're heading to Austin, check out Pocket Gamer's Ultimate SXSW Party Guide with over 100 ways to enjoy the afterhours scene, and listen to this Road to SXSW podcast episode featuring SXSW veteran SF MusicTech's Brian Zisk who shares best kept secrets for jumping the long queues.

Add your top picks for panels, pop-ups and parties in the comments below and follow @contentnow for all the action at the show.


Tech reporter Martine Paris covers trends across mobile, games, AR VR, wearables and IoT, the intersection of emerging tech, music, video and culture, and how to get featured, funded and monetized. You can typically find her at shows with a mic in her hand interviewing industry's leading voices. Follow her @contentnow.