Another Year, Another Step to Pre-Teens | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck Blog

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For what seemed like the longest time, my son and his friends had their birthday parties at the exact same place: Jump N Around. Back then, they were next to where Del Monte Gardens (the old roller skating rink) stood in Monterey; they’ve since moved next to Costco in Sand City. Seemingly every party was there. With a dozen or so classmates at any given time, we wore that place out.

But eventually, all the kids got too big/old to go to Jump N Around. Then the parties diversified…somewhat. They’d either be at the bowling alley (Monterey Lanes), Water City Skating, which took up Del Monte Garden’s would-be clientele after they closed their doors, or a park or beach if the weather cooperated. Once in a while, we’d go out to Salinas for a party at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

About 14 months ago, I wanted to do something different for my son’s birthday. I had heard of game trucks (namely Games2U, which I had seen advertised on the Big Island) and looked to see who was close to us. No one, really. The only company that showed up in my Google searching was GameTruck in San Jose (It turned out that Let’s Party Salinas had a game truck, but didn’t show up in my Googling for some reason). Seeing the need for a different choice for kid’s birthday parties, I investigated the different game truck makers/franchisors, found one I liked, and brought EZPZ’s mobile game theater home to Marina just before Christmas.

One year later, and I’m glad I went ahead and did this. I’ve met just the best, friendliest families. I don’t think I’ve had one bad party or customer experience! The biggest challenge has been getting the word out about EZPZ, as it’s still a new concept in this area, let alone Northern California. My son is now a full-fledged teenager who helps his old man out with the family business when he can. Jump N Around, Chuck E. Cheese and similar venues are great, but when your little ones aren’t so little anymore, I hope you’ll think about giving them a Mobile Video Game Party! Regardless, all the best to you and our wonderful Central Coast neighbors in 2017!

One Reason We Play Multiplayer Games Only | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck Blog

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In virtually every Video Game Party I’ve done so far, a young guest asks if they can play a game in single-player (or story) mode. And almost always, I have to say no. I have an easy “go-to” excuse: that playing in story mode monopolizes a whole TV and game system for that one guest; multiplayer mode allows other kids to play instead of wait. But sometimes it’s a small party, so that excuse doesn’t work…but I still have to decline most of the time.

The reason is, especially if the game in question is rated M for “Mature” by the ESRB, is this: in story mode, there’s likely to be more adult content. In Call of Duty: Black Ops III, there’s all kinds of F-bombs and other strong language. In the latest Grand Theft Auto installment (GTA V, which is not part of our inventory), one of the playable characters has “relations” with a fellow drug user in his trailer right before killing her boyfriend. As in past GTA games, the playable character is able to go to a strip club as well as patronize prostitutes as well. Needless to say, as a business that caters to families, we don’t want this content to be accessed by underage kids during one of our parties.

Thankfully, the vast majority of these otherwise adult-oriented games don’t include content meant for more mature users while in Multiplayer mode. For example, in Black Ops III, multiplayer mode is just each player trying to shoot each other, with little if any blood. Zombie mode in Black Ops III is a little more intense but again, no f-bombs and no strippers. Perhaps this makes us prudes; so be it. We strive to make our parties fun for everyone; multiplayer mode enhances the “party” aspect of our events by having our guests interact with each other in a fun, positive way.

One Year in the Books! | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck Blog

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One year ago today I was driving westward from North Carolina with my newly acquired game truck, my college buddy Forest along for the ride. We stopped in Tennessee the first night; about this time I was white-knuckle driving across Oklahoma. We were blessed with great weather pretty much the whole time – despite it being December and just missing some pretty nasty ice storms the week before – but the famous winds of Oklahoma were knocking us around pretty good, and the tractor-trailers whizzing past us on Interstate 40 weren’t helping either.

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Our game truck taking a rest somewhere in Tennessee.

We stopped in Oklahoma City, our hotel next to a Dave and Buster’s. Seemed odd to go to a place that had video games, seeing that we had a game truck, but dinner and an adult beverage beckoned. The winds weren’t only in Oklahoma, we got slapped around as we went across the Texas panhandle and the large arroyo in eastern New Mexico. Snow flurries greeted us as we approached Albuquerque, our next stop for food and sleep.

Sub-freezing temperatures on a sunny New Mexico morning saw us off (my friend Forest, having not traveled much in the winter, was less than enthused about the cold). We ran into snowy but not undrivable conditions as we went through beautiful Flagstaff and made our way through Kingman, following part of the old Route 66 as we arrived in Barstow, happy that we were back in the Golden State.

Only a half-day trip away now, we drove through the Mojave desert, going through Bakersfield and the Central Valley, getting a taste of I-5 before getting on Hwy 49 towards Paso Robles, and then finally on 101 into Monterey County.

Since then, our year has been one of excitement and learning. We’ve been blessed with TERRIFIC customers, all of whom have been kind, patient and generous. Some of my fellow game truck owners occasionally complain about how they’ve had to throw kids (and some parents!) out of their truck for misbehaving. I have yet to even come close to doing that! Central Coast kids and their families are the best.

Even though a year has passed, EZPZ and our Mobile Game Theater is still a new concept in the Salinas/Monterey area, so we’ll be trying to remedy that with radio/TV ads and more appearances at big local events. In the meantime, if you’re a past customer, please let your kids’ friends know about us! Most of all, thanks for being part of our first year’s success!

Welcome Our New Game Coaches! | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck Blog

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It’s hard to believe that about a year ago, I set the wheels in motion to start a little business called EZPZ Video Game Parties! It was a whirlwind to begin with: various legal/business filings, financing, insurance, market research, yada yada. The year has been a wonderful one, albeit a balancing act between the business and my “day” job. This is the busy season of said job, and it’s also a busy birthday season…so last month I began the search for employees to hold down the fort while I’m off working elsewhere. So meet EZPZ’s newest team members!

David lives in Salinas but is a native of the great state of Michigan. He has plenty of experience in customer service and, fittingly, is an avid gamer. He’ll take care of the heavy lifting in my absence: driving the Mobile Game Theater to your event, making sure everything is running great and that your guests are having an awesome time.

Kat is from Seaside and currently attending Monterey Peninsula College (MPC). She knows console games inside and out and loves working with kids. She’ll be David’s co-pilot, helping him navigate and identify hazards and obstacles when the trailer needs to back up.

Both are dedicated to making sure your birthday kid and their guests have a great time, playing the best multiplayer games and keeping memories that will hopefully last a lifetime!

They’ll be in touch with me in case anything comes up, but we’ll take extra measures to help mitigate any issues that may arise.

I’m grateful to be in a situation where EZPZ is quickly becoming a well-known option for birthday parties, fundraisers and other events, which makes it possible to hire wonderful folks like Kat & David!

Staying Connected to the Central Coast | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck

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As mentioned in my bio on our About page, I still often work in sports broadcasting as a graphic operator. This time of year is very busy, as I’m part of a crew that works college football for Fox Sports (usually on FS1). While I’m happy to be working with this excellent crew, there are a couple of disadvantages while trying to run EZPZ Video Game Parties.

The first is probably obvious: if I’m away on the weekends, it makes it hard to keep the business running! Perhaps you’ve noticed very little availability on our reservations page; this usually means that I’m out of town. The good news is that I’ll have some employees soon  who will keep things running while I’m gone.

The other disadvantage isn’t as obvious. I just noticed today that the more I’m away, the less connected I feel to the community, especially the business community. When I’m home, I’m in frequent communication with chambers of commerce, schools, customers, media, vendors, and so on. When I’m on the road, most of that interaction is sidelined…if anything, I send a hastily-typed email saying I’ll contact them on Monday, with apologies.

Today I was running around, talking with the folks at the Monterey County Weekly, running other errands and talking with fellow business owners here in Marina. I’ve always known that participating in the community is vital to a local business, but I realized how little I’ve been doing that lately. Often I’ll shelve such activities with the excuse of being tired or jet-lagged. As a small business owner though, I can’t afford to allow those things to remain on the shelf.

Now that help is on the way in the form of employees, it’s my hope that these two “disadvantages” will evaporate and that EZPZ will continue to grow and thrive, literally bringing fun and games to kids throughout the Central Coast!

The Question That Stumped Me | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck Blog

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I know that in my last post, I went over several recent questions that customers have asked. But during last weekend’s wonderful event for middle and high schoolers at the Marina Teen Center, one young man locked me up with a question I hadn’t been asked before:

What’s your favorite game?

Me: Just out of the game truck’s inventory, or mine personally?

Kid: Both!

This was a new one! I hemmed and hawed, and I think I just randomly picked one for the truck (Madden) just to suffice. Usually, I’m asked what game am I currently going through, but not what my favorite is.

When it comes to a lot of things (games, music, food, etc), my tastes depend on “where” I am at the moment…mood, frame of mind, what’s going on around me. If the weather’s nice and I’m being more active, I’m more likely to want to eat more healthy. If I just want to chill, then I prefer listening to jazz. If I’m stressful, then a first-person shooter helps me release that pent-up energy. Point is, my “favorite” things depend on my environment at the time.

If, however, I’m really pressed to answer this young man’s question, here’s my answer (and apologies to him for not really answering him at the time):

EZPZ Owner Picks Red Dead Redemption as favorite game all-time

Rockstar’s spaghetti western version of Grand Theft Auto, released 6 (!) years ago, is still the game I go to over and over again. The gameplay is still fun, the characters (especially protagonist John Marston) are not typical two-dimensional virtual puppets, and the open-world environment is incredibly realistic from the bluish hue you’d expect in the morning/high noon to the reddish colors you would find at sunset in the Sonoran Desert. Rumors flare up now and then about a sequel, something that would make this old gamer actually go to a midnight release for.

NHL 2016

To be honest, no one has asked to play NHL in our Mobile Game Theater. As a hockey fan, I admit to being a little disappointed (especially since the Western Conference Champion San Jose Sharks are about an hour away!). But if I’m being honest, this is my favorite game among our game truck inventory. However, this game is kicking my rear end! I’m too good for beginner mode, but the next level up (normal?) has been humbling me. I chalk it up to not having enough time to hone my skills, having to run a business and all. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it…

On the subject of sports games, we’ll be adding Madden 17 to our game menu this week, and we’ll be looking for NBA 2K17 in our mailbox in mid-September.

So there you have it, for whatever it’s worth, my favorite games both in the game truck and my personal collection. Subject to change. 🙂

From The Question Bag | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck

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We get questions now and then than aren’t answered in our FAQ section but are certainly worth mentioning.

Do your prices depend on how many kids are at the party? Is there some kind of sliding scale?

A nice mom from Hollister asked this recently. The short answer is no, our pricing structure is fixed. There are a couple of reasons why we don’t adjust according to a head count: 1) Our expenses are the same, whether there’s just one kid or one hundred. Fuel, oil, maintenance, insurance, etc don’t change with the number of guests. 2) It’d be difficult to adjust the pricing “on the fly”. Imagine a parent says there will be 10 kids attending a party, and as the party progresses, 10 more show up. Keeping track of which kids are paid for and which ones aren’t, then charging the parent retroactively is too much of a headache.

Think of us like a taxi or limo…it costs the same no matter how many passengers there are. Except we’re stationary. 🙂

Can we have extra party time, but in exchange for food? How about just 30 minutes more?

Believe us, we understand wanting to stretch your dollar and get the most value for your hard-earned bucks. But as we mentioned above, fuel, oil, wear and tear on our generator, etc are costs we have to bear. We will have employees soon, so extra time means they have to be paid too.

Additional hours are available at $99/hour (no fractions thereof), and are only available if our schedule allows and upon owner’s approval.

Can I rent your add-on games separately?

This one, from a family in Salinas, caught us off guard! No one had asked this before.

If you didn’t already know, we offer 3 “add-on” non-video games that can be ordered with your Video Game Party for an additional $25 each or all 3 for $60 (as of this writing, subject to change).

Our answer ended up being a big YES! As long as our customers are willing to take responsibility for any loss or damage to the games, why not? However, for now this will only be available to folks within 30 minutes of Marina.

Got more questions for us? Hit us up at ezpzgameparty (at) gmail.com…we’ll be happy to answer them!

Our Sleeper Hit Game | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck Blog

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If you’ve read one of posts from a few weeks ago, you know the games that are the most requested. But one older game we sometimes slyly suggest often ends up being one of the most played games of the party.

A first-person shooter perhaps, like Halo, Call of Duty, The Division, Star Wars Battlefront? Nope.

Maybe a sports game? WWE2016 (kinda sports-related, I know), FIFA, NHL? Guess again.

One of the old Nintendo go-to games like Super Smash Bros, Sonic, or the classic Wii Sports? Strike three.

It’s a game from 2010 that we didn’t even know about until relatively recently.

It’s Blur for the Xbox 360.Blur - EZPZ Video Game Parties

If you’ve played it, you know why it’s a big hit in our Mobile Game Theater. It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s intense competition. It’s Need For Speed + Spy Hunter.

First off, the tracks are crazy challenging. From San Francisco to New York and other locales, you’ll be busy enough just navigating through these joints.

You can choose all different kinds of cars for your race. Dodge Challengers, Ford Focuses, Audis, Volkswagens, even Land Rovers!

Then you have “power-ups” at your disposal. You can throw down some lightning on the leader to slow him up a bit, you can drop a mine to wreck your friend who’s tailgating you (kinda wish I had that in my own car!), you can even put up a shield to give you brief protection from all that stuff. All this stuff makes for a fun and exciting session of racing.

So if you’re having a Video Game Party with us soon, don’t be surprised if we throw Blur on one of the TVs. And don’t be surprised if racing down the Embarcadero throwing down mines for your friends to run over.

Kids at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey playing Blur
Kids at Shoreline Community Church in Monterey playing Blur

Party of Five | Salinas Monterey Hollister Game Truck Blog

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As most of you are aware, EZPZ began bringing Video Game Parties to Central Coast families in January of this year. We’ve been blessed with a steady increase of wonderful customers, but until recently we’ve never had more than 2 parties in a day or more than 3 in a weekend. We broke that barrier with a 3-party day and 5 on the weekend earlier this month!

Making that weekend even more challenging was the fact that we had just returned from visiting family in Hawaii late the night before! We had to get up (relatively) early to clean up the game truck, charge up the controllers and make sure everything was in tip-top shape for our crazy-busy day.

Our first party was Kyle in Salinas. He and his friends from his baseball team spent a lot of time playing MLB The Show and some shooters like Black Ops III. It was really windy that day too, but it didn’t keep some of the boys from enjoying the sunshine while playing Black Ops II.

Next up was Juan in Hollister. We were a little concerned at first because there wasn’t much space in front of his family’s house, but the neighbors were great and allowed us to partially block their driveway (and they were rewarded with some time playing Injustice!). Juan played a little bit of everything, including Giant Connect Four, one of our add-on games!

Wrapping up our big day was Andrew, also in Hollister. Andrew had just finished 8th grade and was celebrating his promotion to high school. He and his friends played a lot of Mortal Kombat XL and Black Ops III, and the ladies got plenty of Just Dance time in as well!

Saturday, the next day, we got to take a little  bit of a breather with one party on the schedule. Darian was celebrating his 9th birthday in North Salinas. The kids enjoyed Halo and Black Ops, and the parents got in the act, playing Mario Kart on one of our outside TVs.

Wrapping up the weekend on Sunday was Elijah, also in Salinas. He and his friends split their time playing shooters and Madden and playing on a HUGE inflatable slide in their front lawn!

Two of that weekend’s parties came to us by way of referral, for which we’re extremely grateful! Any of our wonderful past customers can earn a free 2-hour game party when they refer 5 weekend game parties to us! If you want more information on our referral program, please contact us.

We’re so happy to have such a busy weekend! We look forward to having many more like these in the near future! And don’t worry…no matter how busy we get, we’ll treat you like you’re the only customer of the day.

EZPZ’s 7 Most Requested Games | Salinas/Hollister/Santa Cruz Game Truck Blog

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Here we are, nearing our 5th month of bringing our Mobile Game Theater to Central Coast families and schools, so we thought we’d let you in on some insights as to what our young (and young at heart) customers have been requesting! Without further ado, here are EZPZ’s 7 Most Requested Video Games!

Salinas Monterey Hollister Santa Cruz Game Truck

7. Mario Kart

Mario Kart makes our list mainly because it’s a great game for the non-gamers! The controls are fairly simple, and the game is pretty straightforward. Go fast! Don’t run over any banana peels! Mario Kart is great for our kids in early elementary school as well as parents and grandparents who just want to join in the fun!

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6. NBA 2K16

Let’s face it, this game may not have made the list if it wasn’t for a certain Bay Area team, with their MOST certain MVP point guard, on the threshold of winning their second consecutive NBA title (as of this writing). I would’ve thought that our customers would be fighting over who gets to be Steph Curry, but they’ve been pretty good about taking turns! Now, if they’d just learn not to try to make half-court shots EVERY time down the court…

Salinas Monterey Hollister Santa Cruz Game Truck

5. Just Dance 2016

Our second Nintendo title on our list, Just Dance is mostly a hit with the girls, though it’s GREAT to see the boys show off their moves too! Our last party up near Watsonville also had some moms AND grandmas dancing away as well!

Salinas Monterey Hollister Santa Cruz Game Truck

4. Halo

XBox’s venerable franchise is still a favorite for kids and grownups alike. And unlike most of our other games, Halo can be played with more than 4 players via system link! We had a birthday party near Toro Park last weekend where Halo was being played on 3 of our 7 screens at once! TONS of smack talk being thrown down!

Salinas Monterey Hollister Santa Cruz Game Truck

3. Minecraft

I’ll admit it. Even though I consider myself a gamer, have been for eons…I just don’t get Minecraft. I’m glad kids love it, it’s GREAT for our family-friendly atmosphere…my son’s school even has an elective in Minecraft (they cover school subjects while doing so, like art and geography). Just not my cup of tea. Now I feel old.

Salinas Monterey Hollister Santa Cruz Game Truck

2. Madden 16

Baseball may be America’s pastime, but football is America’s passion. Kids and dads alike love to head to the virtual gridiron! Often our game truck erupts with top-of-the-lungs SCREAMING after a long touchdown pass or a great interception!

And now…our current most popular title:

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  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops III

The latest installment of the CoD franchise, Black Ops III is a terrific first-person shooter. Even though it’s rated M for mature, its multiplayer mode is relatively tame, especially compared to story mode. I had two parties this weekend where the parents asked that this game not be played…it’s the only time where kids get sad in a game truck! Once they start playing one of our other great titles, they’re happy again. 🙂

Some of our honorable mentions would include WWE 2016, Star Wars Battlefront, Super Smash Brothers, Mortal Kombat XL and Street Fighter V.

With new games coming down the pike like Doom and The Division, this list will surely need to be updated! Check back with us in a few months!

Treat The Gamer In Your Life To An Awesome Time!