I was thrilled to be able to attend the XOXO Festival in Portland this year. It introduced me to a bunch of cool stuff, here is what caught my eye:
This is a beer brewing system that is controlled by your iPhone. I just spent the summer learning to brew beer and I have an iPhone so of course I’m terribly interested. It’s made by Cargo and the people are thrillingly passionate about it. They are in the last days of a Kickstarter and I am cheering for them. I spoke to a homebrewer with 20 years of experience about what he thought about Brewbot and he didn’t hesitate to say that if I was going to invest in a homebrew system an automated one like Brewbot would be the way to go. (I’m not going to ignore the fact that it’s expensive though, it certainly is.) They just updated their Kickstarter with news that they can make the system more customizable, and brewers like to tinker and try things out just because. I cannot wait to see how this evolves.
Photo by Natalie Seery, borrowed from jsjoust.com.
Johann Sebastian Joust
Do you know about this already? I didn’t and it was great. Teams of players hold wands of different colors, they can move slow or fast according to changes in music being played. If you move your wand too quickly your light blinks off and you’re out. The goal is to attempt to make players of the other teams move their wand while keeping yourself in the game. It was really fun and everybody was really good sports.
Panic Founders’ Room
The offices of Panic have a hidden room called the Founders’ Room that is super duper awesome. It’s hidden behind a wall panel and it reveals a tiny proper den. There is even a hidden panel inside the hidden room that reveals a secret bar. I love a good hidden room. Related: We were also invited to the offices of Weiden & Kennedy where the Nest that was made famous in an episode of Portlandia is located. It’s a real thing.
This is a game for a large group of people. It’s based off of Mafia using Villagers and Werewolves instead. You can view the rules over at maxistentialism. At XOXO the groups paying this were large and boisterous, anybody who spoke up was subject to suspicion and those who didn’t were questioned heavily. During one session a guy who played the Doctor quietly sat just outside of being singled out and when he made an unusual move it was thrilling to know that those of us watching knew but that nobody playing the game knew that he knew things they didn’t. It was a huge amount of fun to watch.
Photo grabbed from the XOXO video linked to below.
During Max Temkin’s talk The Doubleclicks got up to play “Imposter”, a song about the Mars Rover feeling like it wasn’t good enough for it’s important job. I’m a big fan of theirs (we’re talking house concerts here) and it was a delight to have them pop up unexpectedly. You can view Max’s talk here. While I’m linking to videos go watch one for The Doubleclick’s song Nothing To Prove about being a geek girl.
This has been on my radar for a while and they had the consoles on sale at XOXO so I finally got myself one. The console itself is itty bitty, it’s a cube about the size of a large apple (the good Honeycrisp sort). We fired it up at home, started a few games and contemplated bring it with us on our trip to the UK. Now that we’re here and just spent a sick day inside the tiny studio we rented we really wish we had brought it. Especially because we can hear our downstairs neighbor playing GTA5 and I’m having console gaming envy. I cannot wait to see how OUYA develops.
Largely though the conference for me was about people, it was great to meet people who I’ve followed online for years, great to talk with old friends and great to meet new people. XOXO is often compared to SXSW circa 1999 and I found that to be true, except this time around I’m not too shy to talk walk up and introduce myself to somebody. (I’m still very awkward though, don’t get me wrong.) I feel like I took more away from the conference than I gave to those I encountered and if I have the chance to go to XOXO again I would figure out a way to reverse that.
Some other great moments? Getting to see Rael introduce a game he developed to a few seasoned game makers to enthusiastic response, I’ll be waiting for Zombie Princess to come out. Also, being introduced to Cocanu chocolates, the Gardel bar has Fernet in it. Yum. Also, getting to (finally) meet Jennifer Robbins and learning about the Artifact conference she is part of organizing. It’s all about teaching web designers more about how to work with mobile, and since I left my coding skills back in 2003 I could really use it.