Austin’s annual RTX gaming convention set to be biggest yet

RTX 2017 Convention (KXAN Photo)
RTX 2017 Convention (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — RTX is underway in ATX and the annual gaming convention is expected to draw its biggest crowd yet.

RTX is led by Rooster Teeth Productions, an Austin-based company that created the popular Red vs. Blue web series.  The convention is where gaming meets the Internet and where gamers find their great escape.

“It’s how you get through bad days, it’s how you get through good days, it’s how you make good days,” said one attendee.

Lord British — as he’s known to fellow gamers — created a medieval role-playing game called the Shroud of the Avatar. The game won’t be released until the fall but he recognizes the way Austin ups his animation ante.

“If you look at cities around the world, in contrast, the thing Austin has going for it even 35 years ago was it was a great high tech town and a great arts town and if you think what is the quintessential high-tech art, it is video games,” said Richard Garriott, CEO of Portalarium, an Austin-based video game developer.

The explosive growth in the three-day gaming spectacle, which runs from July 7-9, comes from humble origins.

Costumes are a must at RTX gaming convention. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)
Costumes are a must at RTX gaming convention. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)

“The first event was actually held at a field down in south Austin,” said Gus Sorola, Co-founder of Rooster Teeth Productions. “We paid the owner of the field, got some lawn mowers out and cleaned up, set up a couple of tents and put a keg out and had about 600 people show up.”

That was 2011. Now, 65,000 people are expected to walk through the doors at the Austin Convention Center. The convention is so popular, Rooster Teeth expanded overseas, hosting an event yearly in Sydney, Australia. It will debut RTX London later this year.

“We are already at a point where we are starting to feel constrained by the size of the convention center,” Sorola said. “I don’t think we would ever outgrow Austin, I think we will always find a way to make it work.”

Many of the attendees are young, some still in school.

“If your child is purely a consumer of the content, as along as it’s diverse content, that’s already pretty good, the great step is if they can become a creator,” Garriott said.

And that’s perhaps one of the convention’s biggest goals: creating more creators to meet the soaring demand.

“Austin is behind in pumping out video game creators and that’s actually a threat to Austin’s leadership in this arena is the supply of high-quality employees,” Gariott said.

The University of Texas offers gaming certificates. The Computer Science, Fine Arts, and Radio-Television and Film departments created a joint program called Game and Mobile Media Applications or GAMMA. Students who join its Capstone Course work on individual sections of a 2-D or 3-D game in art, programming or script writing.

And if you are an excellent gamer, it could land you a scholarship. TESPA is a collegiate e-sports organization that network with college clubs and holds tournaments. One of the most popular tournaments is named “Heroes of the Dorms,” where teams of five represent their schools. Each player of the winning team receives up to $75,000 in tuition.

Child plays games during RTX Convention in Austin. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns)
Child plays games during RTX Convention in Austin. (KXAN Photo/Alicia Inns) provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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