Meet The Game Squad
by Meghan Watt
“We heard the music!”
More than a dozen boys erupted from a house filled with candy and burgers, summoned by Halo 3’s operatic intro. In the crisp, warm air of a California morning, they gathered outside and gaped at the inside of heaven.
Filling the driveway and a good third of the cul-de-sac, a bright green trailer greeted them, its back door open and ramp down. Inside the trailer, a 5500 watt generator powered 14 22” Vizios, a big screen TV, 15 Xbox 360s, and one air conditioner. It was time to party.
The kids rushed inside, each claiming a chair, controller, and TV for himself. The birthday boy, Dominic, and his brother, Mason, grabbed the pair of GearBox seats on the far end. A minute later, the first match of Halo began.
This traveling LAN extravaganza is called The Game Squad (TGS), founded and managed by Zach, a man that decided four TVs and a pile of cords could be more than just a guys’ night in. He started back in 2005, delivering 6′ projectors, original Xboxs, and copies of Halo to anyone who wanted to party. With this one time investment in equipment, Zach managed to make a decent amount of cash. But in November 2007, Zach decided to take his business to the extreme.
He purchased a trailer, complete with kitchen, bedroom and garage. During a two week vacation from work, he and a buddy transformed the mobile home into the game haven you see below. Zach added a Rock Band room a while later, changing the bed frame into a stage.
At first, people didn’t hire TGS for more than the usual projector and Halo drop-off. Zach only drove the trailer to a couple parties a month. But after what he calls a “cheesy ad” in O.C. Family, his business skyrocketed. The fourth month, he hit 28 parties and has met or surpassed that number ever since.
“I told my wife I had to quit my job,” Zach said, his arms folded as he observed the party.
Climbing telephone poles for AT&T became a thing of the past. Dressed in a pair of jeans and a gray T-shirt, a pair of sunglasses resting on his head, Zach describes himself as a stay-at-home dad now. He works seven to nine parties each weekend and spends the other five days of the week with his wife and son.
For Zach, it really is all fun and games: Halo 3, Gears of War 2, and Call of Duty 4 for the pre-teens and Star Wars Battlefront, Mech Assault, and other milder titles for the younger crowd. With TGS’s success, he hopes to expand his business soon, adding trailers and updating his current “prototype.” He may even spread TGS beyond the boundaries of Southern California.
Halfway through the party, the boys challenged Zach and his part-timer, A.J., to a match.
“All of us versus you two!” yelled Mason.
Zach shook his head. “Happens all the time. They don’t understand they’ll only have two targets.”
He and A.J. grabbed a pair of seats toward the back anyhow. “We have to win ’cause we have a reporter here,” he teased as they set up the match. Loitering behind Zach’s chair with a notebook, audio recorder and digital SLR, I suppose I did look a rather intimidating.
Zach, a gamer from the Commodore VIC-20 to the Xbox 360, didn’t disappoint. He and his partner in crime scraped by with five points to spare.
“Don’t mess with old guys.”
It was another hour until the boys and the “old guys” had to part ways. The boys reluctantly exited the trailer and started throwing hoops as Zach and A.J. stripped the TVs off the walls and packed them into a pair of bins. They had an hour to grab food and commute to Yorba Linda for another party that afternoon.
Like every weekend, gamers throughout Southern California wanted to party, and it was up to The Game Squad to deliver.