Staying Human in a Digital World: Reflecting on the Lively & Grit Daily House at SXSW 2024

We’re still very much on a high following our activation at SXSW 2024, an experience that went beyond expectations, strengthening our confidence in the industry we work in and the many contributors who were involved in the event and programming. For Lively, activating at SXSW was a years-long ambition that was brought together in a matter of weeks in collaboration with the Grit Daily team.

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Deployed by a nimble team, we were able to work closely with brands and speakers to ensure we delivered a memorable and exciting experience for those on stage at the house, as well as attendees.

  • Authentic connections

  • Transformative technologies

  • The changing landscape of gaming

  • The importance of community for brands

  • Immersive experiences

  • Storytelling and consistent narratives

… defined the many, many conversations at the three-day event held at the Lively & Grit Daily House during SXSW 2024 in Austin, Texas.

From March 9th to March 11th, the Lively and Grit Daily House became a hub for discussions, insights, and innovations at the intersection of humanity and technology. Under the theme of "Staying Human in a Digital World," attendees were treated to a wealth of perspectives from industry leaders, experts, and innovators.

Let's take a closer look at the highlights from each day of this engaging event.

Day 1: Navigating New Realities

The inaugural day of the event set the stage for exploring the evolving landscape of gaming culture and transmedia entertainment. Jonathan Stringfield, representing Activision Blizzard, took the stage to discuss the cultural evolution of gaming and its reemergence in transmedia.

Stringfield's insights shed light on the billion-dollar gaming franchises, emphasizing the increasingly diverse gaming audience and the shift in gaming consumption patterns. He highlighted that gaming is no longer confined to traditional stereotypes, with 48% of gamers identifying as female and gaming taking place across various devices and environments.

Elle, Jonathan, and Mike further emphasized the importance of authenticity and understanding within the gaming community. Elle underscored the need and opportunity for brands to integrate themselves authentically into the gaming experience, while Jonathan highlighted the misconception surrounding gaming audiences and the necessity for inclusivity within the industry. 

Attendees were given the opportunity to hear first hand from Nodle co-founders Micha Anthenor Benoliel and Garrett Kinsman who discussed the need to build trust and authenticity using blockchain. There was a demo of their latest authenticating app, Click, which was available to attendees throughout the three day event. In an era of fake news and deep fakes, it was a timely addition to the experience at the Lively & Grit Daily House.

Lively’s CEO and Co-Founder Mike White had an energetic discussion with Nic Hill of Sawhorse Productions and Connor Kelley of Flaunt on the evolution of gaming as social platforms and the opportunities around this. It was again highlighted that there has been a move away from gaming participants solely being the stereotypical audiences with the over 35 segment growing quickly.

The day's discussions also touched upon the power of intellectual property (IP) crossover between gaming and entertainment, with examples like Warcraft's transition to film. Speakers emphasized the multifaceted nature of gaming as an ecosystem, offering brands numerous touchpoints for engagement.

Day 2: Transforming Marketing and Brand Engagement

Day two delved deeper into the transformation of marketing through communities and authentic brand engagement. Mark Mitchell and Deeps Ramanathan led panel discussions, emphasizing the significance of meaningful connections and relatable experiences, and authenticity in marketing endeavors.

Deeps highlighted the importance of technology in fostering genuine connections, especially in a world where trust in brands and institutions is at an all-time low. Panelists discussed the role of community in shaping marketing campaigns and the need for brands to listen and engage, with genuine interest, with their audiences.

Chris Duffey, Adobe, Nico Sarti, Conde Nast, Mia Sutton, Under Armour, and Deeps Ramanathan, Degreed, further explored the challenges faced by marketers and creatives in an era defined by digital disruption and shifting consumer expectations. They underscored the importance of providing value to consumers and building loyalty through meaningful experiences and community engagement.

Mia noted “We are losing sight of humanity within marketing,” something that has happened over many years as we have become focused and fixated on numbers and data, as opposed to emotion and experience.

Day 3: Creativity, Immersion, and Future Horizons

The final day of the event showcased the future horizons of creativity and immersion in a digital landscape. 

Emily-Ross, X (formerly Twitter) EMEA Director of Brand Strategy, spoke about the existence and importance of storytelling through marketing. She also positioned AI as a tool, and something that supports us being able to “connect, engage and tell stories.” However she highlighted the need to be open to change, “Curiosity is something that keeps us young. Being open to change is important. It’s fascinating how humanity innovates. When there are challenges we innovate. Adversity drives creativity and innovation. And that’s really really powerful.”

Alex Porter, Skylar Thomas, and Erin Reilly explored the potential of edge AI and spatial computing to enhance storytelling and engagement. They discussed the role of immersive technologies in driving emotional connections and empowering users to interact with digital content in new and exciting ways.

Lucas Wilson, ArkRunr, shared examples of the importance of breakthrough technologies with the need for emotional connection for users and audiences. In a lighthearted but impactful discussion with Mike White, he brought to life through his personal stories the opportunity and experience of attending concerts virtually, wearing innovative hardware.

C. Craig Patterson and the Wowzer team discussed the merging of AI-assisted creativity and human imagination in bringing ideas to life, reiterating the important role we retain in the face of technology C. Craig Patterson stated “Creativity requires humanity”. The panelists also emphasized the power of storytelling and visual communication in capturing audience attention and fostering genuine connections. 

The Lively & Grit Daily House became a base for many attendees who would attend sessions of specific interest, stay on longer, network, head off, and return to explore the programming further. We welcomed familiar faces, new faces and made contacts we’re excited to already be collaborating with on content, ideas and opportunities beyond SXSW and the Lively & Grit Daily House. 

Acknowledging Our Incredible Partners

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors: Activision Blizzard Media, Dell, Flaunt, Nvidia, GEEIQ, and Wowzer. Their contributions helped make the event a resounding success, providing attendees with invaluable insights and experiences.

Looking Ahead

As the event concluded, the Lively team expressed excitement about sharing further insights through social channels and upcoming podcast recordings featuring sponsors and speakers. The conversations sparked during SXSW 2024 are sure to resonate within the industry and beyond, guiding future endeavors in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of technology and humanity.

In a world where digital innovation continues to accelerate, events like these serve as crucial touchpoints for grounding ourselves in what it means to stay human amidst the digital noise. Through meaningful connections, innovative technologies, and creative endeavors, we can chart a course towards a more balanced and human-centered future.