What Makes a Party Next Level?

It is hard to believe that we have been doing parties for 15 years at GameTruck. Over that span of time we have seen many companies rise, and fall. Many claim to do what we do, but over time, discerning parents seek out gametruck.com for a party.

It is hard to believe that we have been doing parties for 15 years at GameTruck. Over that span of time we have seen many companies rise, and fall. Many claim to do what we do, but over time, discerning parents seek out gametruck.com for a party.


I believe this speaks as much to the experience economy as anything else. Renting video games is easy. Anyone can do it. Few can be successful at it, plus that’s not exactly the business we are in.

What people want from us is a memory they can cherish. They are looking to buy a celebration that will mark a special occasion they hope to never forget. It is not the video games in and of themselves that is interesting, it is how we manage the event that makes all the difference.

At GameTruck, we do three things exceptionally well, and in my experience those things make all the difference. First, we over communicate with the host. Second, our amazing game coaches maximize player engagement.

Finally, we finish strong, which leaves people with a compelling memory. I’m not just saying this because I’m a fan. I am looking at Net Promoter Score of 86.7 for 2020, one of the toughest years ever for our industry (or most event industries).


My mother told me this story. When she was the manager of the prestigious Bloomfield Hills Country Club in Michigan, she was elected to the president of the club managers association. You would think that a group of professional managers, responsible for planning amazing events for their members would be on top of their game when it came to communicating with annual association convention. “They always waited until the last minute,” she told me. “Every time. You would think professional managers would know better, how late registrations can throw the kitchen into chaos. But they didn’t. It’s human nature.”

Going to a well planned event is a blast. Managing a well planned event? Not so much. That’s why GameTruck invested in developing a state of the art system with advanced notification to make sure we over communicate with the party host. We also invested in an email invite platform, “Party Link” to help the host stay in touch with their guests. What’s more, Game Coaches go out of their way to communicate with the hosts. From the first person you talk to, through the coach, to the franchise owner, everyone understands throwing a party, even a kids party can be a stressful event. Our goal is to do everything we can to reduce that stress.

Having systems in place to manage the consistency, allows our staff to focus on the personal touch. When you rely on a single human to do all the work? Book events, send emails, make all the calls, drive the trailer, manage the event, clean the trailer, and run the business. Things can slip. It takes a team to execute. We don’t always get it perfect, but we always try to get it right. A great event starts with effective communication. As I like to say, “fear fills gaps in communication.” When the host and guests know what to expect, they can relax and focus on having a good time.

Max Engagement


One of the things that makes a GameTruck party work is the design of the environment, and the subtle work of the Game Coach. Both of these combine to create a thoroughly engaging environment for the players. Our goal is always to get everyone playing the entire time. With the rise of games like Fortnite however, we have seen a growing number of kids who engage by cheering on their friends as they compete. I have heard of parties where, “they rocked the trailer” when their team won the game.

What is really interesting about this, and something we’ve seen since the very beginning of GameTruck is that being in the same space, surrounded by games rocks. And I think after spending a few months on Zoom, we can all agree that there is something special about being there in person. This can be explained by the 7/38/55 rule. Only 7% is the words we use. 38% is the tone, and 55% is the body language. The other day my wife changed our dinner plans because while my words said, “I’ll eat there.” my tone and body language screamed, “no”.

Experts call this the lyrics, music, and dance of human communication. When more people are present the density of communication energy goes through the roof. Keeping the rhythms of communication in harmony is the job of the Game Coach.

The Game Coach makes all the difference by helping players negotiate what games to play so no one is left out. What’s more, they remove the learning curve. They help players get into games and focus on play. Coaches remove the sand from the gears when it comes to playing together. We call this Zero Friction Gaming. The faster players get into games, the more time they spend during the party playing games together, the higher the level of engagement. We have learned that players remember games they played with friends better than any game they played alone.

Finish Strong

There is a quirk of human memory that we do not remember everything that happens to us. For the sake of efficiency the human brain “collapses” or “folds” our experiences down to two points. We remember the moment of maximum intensity, and we remember how the experience ended. This is a crucial point. This means that half of how someone will remember their celebration depends upon how it ends. Now hold that thought.

When parents ask their kids to stop playing… what kind of experience do the parents and the kids have most of the time? It’s miserable right? Welcome to the single biggest piece of magic performed by our game coaches. They end the party not only with no crying, but many have personalized ways of making the end of a party memorable. Whether it is singing happy birthday, trying to “flip the truck” or getting the kids hyped up for the next part of the party, they not only end game time strong, they leave the kids energized. Many gamers remember their game coach for years aftward. I received an email from a mom just last week from one of the first GameTruck Parties held in Georgia. Her son still remembers that party.


One of the craziest parts of the video game industry is the relentless rate of change. As I write this the PlayStation 5 and XBox Series X has hit the streets. GameTruck started with PlayStation 2, GameCube, and the Xbox 360. How did we survive so long? By delivering great celebrations that kids never forgot. That did not happen by accident. Dedicated partners, and outstanding systems focused on communicating with the hosts made throwing a GameTruck party easier. The latest games, and tremendous staff helped not only boost player engagement, but our Game Coaches help end the parties on a high note – which means the memories of the event are as strong as possible. At the end of the day, parents want their kids to feel respected, valued, and to celebrated. That is what makes a GameTruck party next level. It’s not just a party, it is a celebration.

What Difference Does a Game Coach Make?

Answer: All the Difference

One of the great things about GameTruck is that when people see the Game Trailer, they instantly get the concept.  I frequently hear things like, “How fun!” and “That looks amazing,” or the timeless favorite, “Wow.”

I know the truck is extremely cool, but, that is not what people buy from us.  As sweet as that game theater is, at the end of the day, this is not actually what people buy from us.  Remember the story about Laser Tag?  Before we offered it as a service, people would call, ask for it, and despite being told, “We don’t offer that.” They would book us anyway.  Who does that?  Who calls a store looking for one thing and then buys something completely different?

As far as the equipment goes they are completely different.  A set of laser tag gear looks exactly nothing like a Video Game Trailer.  This caused me to ask the question, “What exactly are they buying?”

It’s not what the equipment is, it is what the equipment represents.  The equipment is a physical representation of an outcome.  They can see equipment.  They can visualize it.  But what they really want is a party.  And not just any party, they want a GameTruck Party.

And let’s be clear, a GameTruck party is a special kind of party.  If you only focus on the equipment, you might miss it.  People buy GameTruck parties to celebrate.  The outcome they want is a great celebration.  A celebration is a form of marking a special occasion or important event by engaging in enjoyable social activities.

From my experience, a celebration is a form of recognition.  You are acknowledging someone and elevating them into a position of dignity and respect.  They feel validated, seen, heard, and most of all valued.  A successful celebration is a confirmation of the value we place on the people in our lives, especially our children.

This is supported by one of the oddities of the GameTruck business.  Most parties are not ordered by the person playing in the game theater.  They are ordered by parents, by office managers, by school administrators.  The event is ordered by someone for someone else.  

A GameTruck Party is a gift, a gift of recognition, respect, and socialization.  It is a transference of emotion, and things don’t transfer emotions, people do.

At the end of the day, the magic of a GameTruck Party is delivered by and from the GameCoach.  The person in charge of the event, of managing everything that happens inside (and near and around) the Game Trailer.

When people say, “It’s about the experience.”  This is the experience they are talking about.  The experience their child has when they are the center of attention of an adult who cares as much about gaming as they do.  They are the focus of their friends and family, sitting at the front, choosing the game they want to play and who they want to play with.

The real magic of a GameTruck party is delivered by the amazing men and women who go to great lengths to:

  • Make sure the trailer is clean before the party starts
  • Put everything away after the party is over
  • Make sure the host is comfortable with the selection of available games (we respect the right of parental choice for is and is not appropriate for their guest to play)
  • Help the players negotiate who is going to play what games and when
  • Translate the players expressions for the parents (concentrating gamers do not look like they are having fun – but they are)
  • And most importantly, making sure the VIP – the focal point of the celebration is feeling seen, heard, and valued.

It’s easy to focus on equipment.  We see people do it all the time.  They get sucked into comparing this thing vs that thing, this feature vs that feature and they lose sight of what they really want to buy.  They want to let their child know how much they mean to them. They want to celebrate.

A great Game Coach makes that all seem effortless, automatic, invisible even. Yet we know it’s real and it matters because we see the tips that flow through our system on a regular basis.  We also get the calls from distraught parents who, for the sake of $25 went with another company that cancelled on them at the last minute because their “driver got sick”, or “flaked”, or “didn’t show up” or my personal favorite, “the driver is in jail.”

We never call our staff drivers.  They are Coaches.  A coach works to grow human potential.  A coach is focused on helping you play your best.  A coach brings specialized knowledge that will make it easier for you to play the way you want to play.

Drivers are focused on things.  

A coach is focused on people.

When people ask, “What does a Game Coach do?”

I answer, “The most important work of all. They turn a party into a celebration.”

And that is what every parent is really trying to buy from GameTruck, and that is what everyone in our system works so hard to deliver.

Laser Tag Tag Gets Your Gamer Outside

Laser Tag’s popularity has exploded as people look for ways to celebrate outside

One of the surprises of 2020 for us has been a tremendous demand for Laser Tag. While people are avoiding large venues where they may be mingling with strangers, private parties that meet the CDC guidelines have been extraordinarily popular during COVID. While video games have been popular, this year we have seen unprecedented demand for our laser tag offering.

The reason is simple.

Parents want to get their kids out of the house.

Perhaps it harkens back to a simpler time when we used to play outside. When I was a kid growing up in the 70’s I remember my parents kicking me out of the house and telling me not to come back until dinner time. I even remember one summer when I raced back into the house after dark and my dad asked, “are you done for the night?” Not breaking stride as I ran to the junk drawer, I shouted back over my shoulder, “Nope just getting a flashlight!” My father’s response? “Okay kid.”

We have learned a lot about parenting (and no I never turned my kids loose like that when they were young) — the image of our children playing outside with each other I do not believe will ever go away.

So let’s take a look at what is making Laser Tag so popular.

This is Not Your Father’s Laser Tag

You are probably most familiar with indoor laser tag. With indoor laser tag, black lights and fog create an otherworld atmosphere where groups of players — divided into teams — compete with each other as they navigate a darkened maze. GameTruck Laser Tag is completely different.

For the Record: Laser Tag is not played in the truck!

GameTruck brand Laser Tag is played outside. If you actually look at the most popular first-person shooter (FPS) games today you may notice something in common with them. They are all played in very realistic environments. The days of hazy otherworldly space battles seem to be over, at least in the video game space.

In addition, at a GameTruck Laser Tag event, only your invited guests can participate. The event is private. You may find this shocking, but most people play it in the front or back yard. Like the old-school game of tag for which it’s named, you don’t need as much space as you would think to play.

The Taggers Are Safer Than You Know

I have a secret, but you have to promise not to tell your kids. Laser Tag units are basically TV remote controls dressed up to look like fancy science fiction blasters. They “transmit” infra-red light (basically an LED blinks on and off behind some optics) and “sensors” pick up the light and decode the signal to figure out where it came from, and who gets the credit for the tag.

The biggest risk the taggers pose is their weight. Seriously. This is why we have a strict no running policy. The rugged aircraft-grade aluminum units are light enough for a six-year-old to hold but they can pack a wallop if you get bumped with one.

Laser Tag embraced social distancing before social distancing was a thing. They are more fun to operate over long distances, and most players realize they are at a disadvantage up close because the software inside the tagger limits how fast you can pull the trigger. Strategy, teamwork, and communication are the keys to success in almost every laser tag game.

Gamers Love it

Kids who play video games, especially first-person shooter (FPS) games like Fortnite, tend to understand Laser tag immediately. They are familiar with the concepts and game modes. The chance to play an FPS like game in real life is irresistible. What’s more, the players are able to experiment with different games. They can work as teams, play individually, or recreate popular video game experiences like infection, or dreadnaught. Our coaches are constantly assessing the newest most popular games. They take away the learning curve so players spend more time tagging each other than figuring out rules.

Summer, fall, winter, spring — gamers play laser tag in all seasons. Each change in the season brings a different feel and a different texture to the experience. Dodging behind trash cans in the summer has a completely different vibe than building a snow fort in winter and defending your kingdom.

Parents love it

Finally, the number one reason Laser Tag has become enormously popular this fall — (nearly tripling demand) is because the kids are outside and moving around. Homeschooling, e-learning, and all that time in front of screens have been tough on everyone. What’s more, many of the public spaces we used to attend may be off-limits or closed. Laser Tag lets you create an active world in the privacy of your own back yard.

Parents tell them that the sight of their kids interacting with friends alone makes it worthwhile. Add to that they are burning calories and stretching their arms and legs as they move from hiding spot to hiding spot, and both parents and players have loved GameTruck Laser Tag. Supervised by GameTruck Staff who act as part referee, part coach, and part technical support, parents can sit back and enjoy themselves and their kids having fun. (Note: Some adults are even known to join in the fun!)

True Story

When I started GameTruck I was dead set against Laser Tag. I wanted to focus on being the best video game party company on the planet. You know how stubborn entrepreneurs can be. Yet, customers kept calling and asking for it. When our booking agents told them it was unavailable, parents still booked with GameTruck anyway.

That affected me in two ways. First, I thought, “Who does that!?” How many times do you call up a company looking for one product only to end up buying something completely different? I had mistakenly thought the parents were buying video game parties — the product we sold them. The truth is, they wanted help celebrating their child’s birthday. While they might have preferred laser tag, the parents wanted a successful celebration from a trusted company more than a specific activity. This insight has driven our company for over a decade and I believe it is the key to our long-standing success. What is the saying? 10 million guests can’t be wrong?

The second effect these customers had on me was much more practical and simple. I asked myself, “Why weren’t we selling people things they wanted to buy from us?” In short order, we added laser tag, and as they say, “the rest was history.”

Laser Tag Get’s Them Moving

The bottom line is that at GameTruck we are committed to doing anything we can to help you celebrate your child’s birthday. In full disclosure, depending upon where you live, some, or all of our services may be curtailed or suspended entirely. These are trying times. I think we are all looking forward to getting back to an open, safe, and free country where we can spend time with our friends again.

During this time of solidarity, however, where we are all making sacrifices to help expedite that day — and you happen to live in an area that allows small private gatherings like Laser Tag, you might want to check this out. Thousands of families just like yours have already found it to be a tremendously successful way to get their kids off the screens and outside playing with friends. I’m not just making that up. Our Net Promoter Score (NPS) ranks as an astounding 92. That is higher than Zappos, Amazon, Enterprise Rent-a-car, and many other national brands. It is certainly the highest score of any video game party company. What that means is 9 out of 10 people would recommend a GameTruck laser tag party to their friends.

Don’t believe me? If you have had a friend who has hosted a Laser Tag party, just ask them. You don’t have to take my word for it.