Birthday fun: The big green GameTruck

Though my kids are young, they are already starting to get into video games. So, we were thrilled for the chance to give our youngest a GameTruckParty when he turned 3 earlier this month.

GameTruck is a cool alternative to a traditional birthday party. The GameTruck shows up at your house, equipped with Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles and plenty of games inside for every age range.

We had prepped our kids for the GameTruck experience, but they were still wide-eyed and excited when the huge green truck pulled up in the front of the house. Each of their trucks can accommodate up to 16 or more players

The truck offers plenty of room to lounge around, 5 or 6 giant flat screen HDTVs with consoles set up with each one. The truck includes a vast selection of games with everything from Mario Brothers to Skylanders to NBA 2K13. The GameCoach was extremely helpful, and helped all my kids play the games — even the ones who were doing more “pretend” play than actual play.

Prices for the GameTruck parties vary, depending on where you live. Here in our area, it’s $295 for the first two hours, $105/hour for each additional hour (Friday-Sunday, up to 25 people). Weekdays are a little cheaper, and you can also find discount codes on their website for hosting parties early in day, last-minute bookings, military personnel and more. You can also order gift bags, t-shirts, sports bottles and other items for your party guests.

Even if you don’t let your kids play video games all the time, the GameTruck is a fun idea for special occasions. Two hours of video games isn’t going to hurt anyone!

Whether you have toddlers or teens, or kids in between, the GameTruck experience can be a whole lot of fun. Every couple days since the birthday party was held two weeks ago, my sons ask me, “Mama, when is that big green truck with video games inside coming again?”

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As I sit here this morning writing this over coffee, my birthday boy is next to me telling me last night was the “best birthday party ever.” The party he is referring to; Game Truck; an amazing green and black truck filled with every video game a gamer could ask for.

Game Truck is a complete video game party brought direct to your door step. Each truck comes equipped with Wii, Xbox 360 and Play Station 3 consoles. You are given a choice of over three dozen of the latest video games and you can cater to any age appropriate party. Prior to the children boarding the bus, I met with the staff and chose age appropriate selections for the wall. Everything from Skylanders, to Wii resort, to a vast selection of Mario Brothers were there for the picking. The children were so excited; waiting by the window to be told it was time to board.

As my birthday boy stepped onto the truck, he was greeted by two Game Coaches and wall to wall video game choices. All the children lined up and sat down along the truck-long couches and were given a quick orientation of all the fun they were in store for. There are 4-5 giant flat screen HDTVs with consoles all set up for each one. In the corner, Skylander’s Giants was set up (my son’s personal favorite) and in the front, there was plenty of space for a “dance floor.” Players can play against friends, in teams or at the same time. Our two Game Coaches kept everyone busy, going from group to group changing games, helping with the set up and adjusting game controllers. They were friendly, experienced and had the video game enthusiasm to make the party a complete success. Our party had a range of ages from 4 to 10 years old and the Game Coaches were able to provide a selection that brought smiles to everyone’s face.

Two hours flew by in what felt like seconds and I can certainly say my 7-year-old would have stayed on the bus for two more. It must be said that the day of our party we were greeted with terribly inclement weather and the Game Truck did not let us down. I was so thrilled that they made the trip out to us regardless of the snow, ice and rainy conditions. In addition, the local branch owner was in touch with me the day before, a few hours prior and even the next day with information and feedback. Everyone was excited and I even overheard a few kids tell their parents, “I want Game Truck for my birthday.” I would recommend this party to any parent with a video game enthusiast like my son. Thank you Game Truck; you made my little guy’s day and we will never forget it. In closing, a quote direct from the birthday boy: “That was the coolest party ever mom; thanks for getting me Game Truck.”

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Scott Novis wanted to create a dream arcade.

So the former videogame designer bought eight large projection TVs from Costco (COST, Fortune 500), covered the walls of his garage with plywood, installed all the popular consoles — including Nintendo’s GameCube, Sony’s (SNE) PS2 and Microsoft’s (MSFT, Fortune 500) XBox — and loaded up on games like Halo 2, Mario and Mario Kart Double Dash.

An executive with Disney (DIS, Fortune 500) at the time, Novis thought of transplanting the entire setup to a truck, making a video arcade on wheels that would appeal to kids. Later that year, he ordered a trailer and created his first GameTruck. It had four 50-inch plasma TVs on the wall, LED lighting and carpeted walls.

“It was a visceral experience, like you were stepping inside of the game,” he said. Novis rented out the GameTruck, which could accommodate up to 20 kids, for birthday parties.

“Moms loved it,” he said. “We could park it in front of the house and mom could keep an eye on the kids and not deal with any mess in her house.”

Novis franchised the idea in 2008 and immediately locked in five franchisees. “Business exploded after that,” he said. Today, GameTruck has 79 franchisees operating 85 trucks nationwide. He expects to add another 20 to 25 franchisees this year.

“We have a generation of kids today that are connected by technology but physically isolated from each other,” said Novis. “GameTruck is bringing these kids together in a fun way.”

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