Couple starts mobile video gaming center business in Minnesota
A Hastings family has launched a unique new business that takes mainstream gaming on the road. The Power Up Truck is a mobile gaming center. On the outside, it's a trailer. But inside is something completely unexpected. The inside of the truck is...
A Hastings family has launched a unique new business that takes mainstream gaming on the road.
The Power Up Truck is a mobile gaming center. On the outside, it’s a trailer. But inside is something completely unexpected.
The inside of the truck is any video game lover’s dream. There are four large televisions lining one side, each hooked up to several popular game consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii and Wii U. Opposite the screens is bench seating. The whole thing is lit with colored lights and rigged up with a sound system. The fun doesn’t stop inside. Two panels on the outside of the truck open up to two more big screens, bringing play space outdoors.
Being mobile, the Power Up Truck can bring the gaming experience practically anywhere, making it an increasingly popular choice for events like birthday parties, carnivals, block parties and other community events.
It was their son’s birthday party that first inspired Russ and Susie Palla to launch the Power Up Truck. Jack was turning 9 years old, and his parents rented a similar gaming truck for his party. They had plenty of kids over for the party, and all of them were able to fit and play together.
The truck made for what Susie called the “easiest birthday party ever” and it was the inspiration for their new business.
“We decided we could do better,” Russ said.
It didn’t hurt that Russ himself is a gamer, as is his son. Susie doesn’t play as much, she said, but she does jump in on some of the games.
Jack is now 12, and helps give other families the same experience he got. Susie and Russ launched their Power Up Truck in October. They worked with Extreme Game Truck in California to build and customize their own rig, including many of the same features of the truck they hired for Jack’s party, as well as some of their own custom features.
Power Up Truck has a total of six 55-inch television screens, four inside and two outside, each of which is hooked up to (at the very least) an Xbox One, Xbox 360 and a Wii. The truck also has the PlayStation 4 and Wii U, so it can run games on every current generation major console system.
They have a growing library of video games; when parents rent the truck, they can see the entire list of games and choose which games they want – or don’t want – available to their children. At the party, the kids can flip through a book full of game covers and pick out the ones they want to play. A few of the games can have all 16 people inside playing at once.
If there’s a particular game a group wants at their event, all they need to do is request it, and the Pallas will purchase it themselves and add it to the Power Up Truck library, at no extra cost to the customer.
“We always make sure that they get the game that they want,” Russ said.
The inside has both heat and air conditioning, making it available to groups even in the winter months. The truck doesn’t connect to the Internet, so parents don’t have to worry about online interactions; the only people playing will be the people in the truck.
One priority for the Pallas has been making sure that their parties are not only supervised, but supervised by people who are great with both games and kids.
“It’s important to have somebody who can help,” Susie said.
As the owners, Russ and Susie are always around, and they also hired a gamer with both the personality and experience to work with groups of up to 24 kids, even going so far as to grab a controller himself and play with anyone who feels left out during a party. Jack has also stepped up, and has been a great teacher for some of the kids, Susie said.
For the most part, the kids aren’t the ones who need a lot of direction, though.
“Most of the kids have played more games than we have,” Russ said.
Usually, there are a couple kids in a group who know exactly how to set up a game and get everyone involved.
So far, the business has been met with nothing but positive comments, although it’s a concept that many parents are still unfamiliar with.
“It’s amazing,” Susie said, “that people don’t know it exists.”
But those who do rent the truck all seem to have the same reaction: “Wow,” Russ said.
Mothers, especially, like how easy it makes a party, Susie said. She said she would put together a theme party in the past, making up all sorts of treats, decorations and even costume pieces for every child who attended. The truck takes a lot of that burden off of parents, she said, and the kids all love it.
“It’s an awesome party,” she said.
Being mobile, Power Up Truck goes wherever the party is. So far, the Pallas have done events as far away as Rochester and St. Francis, but their roots are firmly planted in Hastings.
“We’re here and we’re local,” Susie said.
The Power Up Truck can be a feature at birthday and block parties, community events, festivals or carnivals, and even school fundraisers. It’s available for events on any day of the week.
The Pallas plan to keep updating the truck as they go, keeping up with new games and systems and adding features.
“I think we’ll keep adding to it,” Russ said.
Power Up Truck can be found online at www.poweruptruck.com or by phone at 1-844-9-POWERUP. They are also on Facebook: Power Up Truck.