SXSW Report Card

SXSW Wrap Up

Mr. Kelly, blending in

We came back from SXSW a few weeks ago. Noggins full of ideas, headaches and other good things. Coupon-mania, marketing-babble, and hipster jokes aside, SXSW is still a totally awesome gathering. Overall, this year seemed a bit less tech-y, and more culture-y. And definitely more business-y.

But first, a HUGE thanks for Marko, Aris and Orion who put Finn and I up in their South Congress home. Lots of great company, chickens and wine at the Casa on La Mesa.

So, we had 4 main objectives at SXSW:
1. Get some publicity for The Go Game App.
2. Be inspired by other creators, and network a little
3. Have fun
4. Run a kick-ass game for the Texas Style council

All told, I think we met with reasonable success in all 4 areas.

Publicity (Grade B+):
Man, it’s a crowded space for those of us launching a location-based app game! We abandoned the strategy of a few years ago (dress up like insane people and do weird stuff like a high-school themed game) in favor of a more directed approach, courtesy of Marie Domingo. The overall approach was slightly less insane/entertaining, but definitely easier on the liver. She targeted  journalists and bloggers who wanted to write about The Go Game App and  we were particularly happy with Chris Dannen’s Fast Company article. Awesome job Marie! Fittingly, for the Fast Company interview,  Finn and I sat on rocking chairs on a porch, pontificating about location-based games like the geezers we are.

Be Inspired/Network (Grade A-):
SXSW has to be the easiest place to do both things. We really loved meeting/chatting with:

  • Lawrence and Punkaj at Double Dutch. These guys create really well-designed custom location-based apps, mostly around conferences like TED. We’re hoping to combine some of our game content with their really functional apps. New/old friends who were always fun to hang with (which we did a ton).
  • Dokogeo: Saul and JP did a great talk on Sat AM. Sadly we had to skip the end, but got to chat a bit with them. Dokobots, their new game is really gorgeous and is one of the best examples of how to make a game that relies on user-generated content, but isn’t poo-poo. The art’s fantastic, and it’s fun as hell. Modern-day craftsmen, them.
  • Gary Vaynerchuk’s talk was a breath of fresh air. Common-sense and really funny advice for the Thank You Economy. Drop a comment and we’ll buy you a bottle of wine.
  • Gabe and Sarah at Meet Gatsby. Our pals from home. They always keep us informed on what’s what and who’s who in this world.
  • Chris Olson at JESS3 (and former Go Gamer and hardest-working man at SXSW). It was great to catch up with him and hear tales from the trenches of social media.
  • Laura Adams and Dave Cobban at Nike. Turns out Drewstew was Laura’s RA at Stanford. Dave was full of awesome energy about Nike’s huge effort to go totally green. We run games for Nike all the time, so hopefully we’ll see them in Portland before too long.

Have Fun (Grade A-):
Finn had the masterful idea of renting cruiser bikes. So each morning and night we’d pedal to or from downtown. Fun every time (except when you couldn’t recall where you parked the bike). Saw a great Trombone Shorty show put on by PBS with old pal Glynn Washington. Face melted and got to hang with Mr. Shorty after the show a little — it was as though he attended Vanyerchuk’s talk. He had so much time for everyone, really gracious, hanging at the bar, chatting, effusive with his thanks. Go Gamer Jenny Gottstein was always the life of the party. It’s like SXSW was made just for her.

Run a game for Texas Style Council (Grade: A)

Jenny rallied hard and wrote an awesome Clothing Swap/Vintage-themed game for our friend Indiana at the Texas Style Council that we ran on Saturday. Good times were had by all!

Oh, and some pics!

    Fast Company Loves The Go Game as much as Google and Apple

    Magazine Community Jobs

    We received an in-depth article on The Go Game today in an article by Chris Dannen of Fast Company, with a wonderful write up that includes this quote:

    “You might say that The Go Game, an iPhone game launching this week at SXSW, is the best-researched project in the history of location games. Founders Ian Fraser and Finnegan Kelly have spent the last 10 years running a hacked-together version of the game at corporate team-building events for GoogleApple, EA Games, ZyngaFacebookMicrosoft and Intuit.”

    Read full article here:

    Another fine mention comes in a blog post Dannan wrote about Ze Frank, who has a startup of his own, Danna writes:

    “It’s tempting to think of Frank as a throwback, but the more of his TED talks you watch, the more you realize his timing might be extremely adept: after all, other smart startups here at SXSW, like Scvngr, The Go Game, and Christopher Poole’s Canvas are also thinking about the purity of fun on a very high level. “It’s a great time to be visually extravagant and wondrous on the web,” he says, because social networks like Facebook are so heavy-handed about how profiles look. “ works because we need it now.”

      IntoMobile is into The Go Game

      We were fortunate enough this week to host the founders of, one of the premier destinations for everything mobile.  We sat down for lunch and showed off the game.  Here’s what they had to say:

      “The Go Game iPhone app lets you bring those types of location-based gaming to smaller parties like a birthday celebration or a bachelor party (there’s an NC17 mode for those who want it). You build these games by going to the company’s site and it costs about $50 per game.”

      Read the whole article here

        Venture Beat Digs The Go Game App
        Venture Beat just wrote a nice article about The Go Game App. Here’s a quote:

        “When asked about competition, The Go Game pointed out that Scvngr was similar in that it asked users to complete location-based activities. Though a few differences are evident among the two companies, including that Scvngr appears much more focused on working with brands to reach consumers, while The Go Game specifically targets companies interested in creating employee-based scavenger hunts. Another difference is the focus on video by The Go Game, which incorporates it by allowing users to vote at the end of each hunt then share it through Facebook and Twitter.”

          The Go Game Launches iPhone App at SXSW

          On Thursday we take off for SXSW in Austin, TX., where we’ll be launching our big new thing — a product that will allow us to offer something like a DIY version The Go Game!!! An iPhone app version of TGG — it can be played by anyone (for now anyone with an iPhone), anywhere (starting w 10 cities…20 more coming by summer), and it will magically turn any gathering into a Go Game. No Gamerunner needed.

          Led by David Moles on the iPhone side and David Yun and Finn on the back end, it’s been a huuuuge and productive effort for the last several months. We’re incredibly excited/proud/tired.

          Couple thoughts that led us down this road:

          1. The technology is finally here. It really took ios4 for the scale to tip and allow us to deliver something we feel proud of. So much of The Go Game magic relies on the video/music pairing that’s done live and on-the-fly by the gamerunner. Apple’s new operating system allows us to finally do justice to teams’ ‘creative’ missions. Finn enlisted a bunch of friends to create custom soundtracks. We think you’ll agree that the interface is hot.

          2. Our content is really good. We’ve been writing and executing these games for 10 years and we’ve learned a lot about what groups like to do, what they can/can’t do, how to pace a game, what confuses them, and what delights them. So we’re putting our game content front and center. People generally have a hard time writing good real-world game/scavenger style missions — and we’re the experts. We do it all for you.

          3. The demand is here — knocking on our door, every day. We get thousands of inquiries looking for a Go Game for smaller parties (birthdays, bachleor/ette, anniversaries, team-building, etc) and we can finally service them at a really great price point. The demand has been here for a while, but we never felt solid enough about our HTML version of the ‘everywhere game’ to really go after it, full-throttle. Now — we’re ready!

          4. We’re full-trottle. It’s in the App store (releasing soon). We’ve done a ton of design work, made stop-motion movies, have a good PR push coming. It’s exciting!

          Much more to come over the next week. I’ll try to post some updates from Austin.

          Stay tuned amigos!