At SXSW’s Screenburn Arcade, center for all things gaming, I saw something this year I’d never seen before at the event: gamers. In addition to game developers, publishers, journalists, marketers and gamifiers, actual players. Some of them even came in coastume, just as they would at PAX, Gen Con, SDCC and other community-focused events.

Not only that, there are many, many more exhibitors than there have been in years past, and they came to spend serious money on promotion. The highlight of yesterday was a live StarCraft II tournament featuring two of the hottest competitive players on the circuit, flown in for the occasion. The tourney was live-streamed all over the world — tech columnist¬†Jonathan Feldman and his teenage son were texting back and forth across the miles, commenting on the competitors’ strategy and tactics.

This didn’t just happen by itself: a representative from Steve Jackson Games (one of the most venerable game companies in the industry who is making its first appearance at Screenburn this year) told me that the person running Screenburn is determined to make Screenburn “a place where gamers want to come.” This year, it succeeded.

I’m now adding Screenburn to my list of major gaming events during the year. If you have clients in the gaming space, or your represent companies that want to reach audiences of gamers, I recommend you look at making an investment in Screenburn going forward.

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