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Taking fun on the road

December 12, 2009 by by Brian Grabianowski, San Mateo Daily Journal

Alex Shamis/Daily Journal

Sherrie Bayer took a spin in a human hamster ball.

Mobile Arcade franchises have been open across the country for many years, but none of them are at the level of Games2U, a high-caliber organization devoted to making children happy and spicing up birthday celebrations.

However, it has accomplished much more than entertaining kids at parties.

Although Games2U is based out of Texas, the franchise was bought and started in California by Maria Guterman. She and her staff drive to each event location in her Games2U van, full of various games such as structures for laser tag, large inflatable “hamster balls” for kids to climb into and roll around in and televisions with video games.

They will help kids get into the hamster balls and roll them around and will set up the walls and setting for laser tag, and when the time comes they set up the televisions in the van to play Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. Guterman hopes to gain three more vans by 2010.

Kelly Salas, a girl who’s been lucky enough to enjoy a Games2U hosted event for her birthday, could not find words to describe her experience. “I can’t describe it, it’s just really fun,” she said.

Since Guterman bought the franchise in May of this year, Games2U has offered their services through silent auctions, has devoted time to the Junior Diabetics Foundation and the Peninsula Jewish Community Center. Games2U has gone as far as Marin County but is primarily advertised based on referral in the Peninsula.

Guterman had only started offering the Games2U services in September, but already their amount of customers has tripled. In September, they had only eight parties planned, but they were seeing about 27 in November. Games2U also appears at school fundraisers and participates in release parties for Gamestop.

Guterman has had the same crew since September, and although it is a job it hardly feels like work to any of the staff, especially to George Studdard, who said, “It’s not even a job, it’s something I totally enjoy. I couldn’t be happier.”

Studdard has gotten a lot of good feedback. When speaking to parents while organizing events, he will ask, “how tired do you want your kids?”

In the future, Guterman hopes to implement new games for the kids, including a “U-Bot” activity where the kids take control of individual parts of a robot apparatus. Guterman enjoys her job to an amazing degree. “There’s never been a bad day at work,” she said.

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