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Playing games

August 25, 2009 by Claire Taylor, The Daily Advertiser

Tired of skating rinks, bowling alleys, pizza parlors and burger joints as venues for birthday parties?

Well, there's a new option in town that will take the party -- complete with video games, human hamster balls and laser tag -- to your house, the park, a school, anywhere you want.

It's called Games2U and it features a mobile video game theater that can drive up to your house and entertain up to 20 children at a time, franchise owner Bill Johnson of Lafayette said.

"I pull up in their driveway and, in five minutes, we're playing. That's it," he said.

Johnson's mobile theater is a tricked-out van, air conditioned and darkened, with laser lights, fog and state-of-the-art sound, containing a bank of video games where up to 12 youngsters at a time can play Wii, Guitar Hero, Madden, Halo and X-Box.

A panel on the outside of the van opens up to reveal two more large video screens to accommodate additional players, plus a photo booth where party-goers can have their picture taken with various backgrounds to take home with them as a party favor.

A couple of blasts from a candy cannon is entertaining, provides treats and ensures nobody ends up on America's Funniest Videos being whacked by a kid trying to crack open a pinata.

"That way the mothers don't have to go out and buy all that junk," he said.

If the partiers want to get a little more active, Johnson's got a couple of options for them.

The first is laser tag, complete with bunkers, that he can set up in a yard and accommodate up to 20 players at a time.

"The latest and most fun" activity, though, is two human hamster balls. The inflatable balls, eight feet in diameter, each contain another ball which allows a child to climb inside and roll around. Johnson introduced the human hamster balls at the Games of Acadiana recently in Lafayette.

"The kids are loving it. It's a whole new experience for them," he said.

With all three options -- the mobile video van, laser tag and hamster balls -- Johnson said Games2U can entertain up to 50 children at a time. A basic one-hour party with one of the three games costs $199. A 90-minute party goes for $349.

Retired from the oilfield, Johnson read about Games2U and, the father of two decided it was a better option than bowling parties. He purchased a franchise and received his van on July 4.

"If I'm going to go back in business, it might as well be something fun," he said.