Video games are no longer just meant for the home. The game room has just gone mobile, merging entrepreneurship with a true passion for gaming. Round 1 Gaming Lab, one of a very few mobile game trailers in the city of Detroit, provides a luxury gaming experience which is quickly catching on.
Founded by partners and local Detroiters Tyrell Slappey, Terrance Crowell and Markita Richardson, Round 1 Gaming Lab brings a gamer’s paradise right to the front doors of its customers. The 26-foot long by 9-feet wide trailer houses five televisions, each equipped with the trinity for gamers: an X-Box, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. The climate-controlled theater style trailer can house four players per television making it a max seating of up to 20. A unique feature, the trailer also houses two additional 50-inch televisions on the outside. Tucked beneath awnings, gamers can take advantage of the systems while also catching some fresh air.
Launched in June 2021, the gaming lab was the result of chance and opportunity. After having a conversation with his twin brother, Crowell wanted to launch a business similar to one his future business partner had previously created. Slappey, former owner of another gaming trailer, wanted to pivot and bring a new gaming vision to life.
“We had previously said we wanted to get the previous gaming lab back up and running. We [my twin brother and I] had a meeting with Tyrell and he said ‘honestly I’m done with that one. If we’re going to do something, it cannot be the former,’ and we talked and talked. We didn’t even have a name, we were just discussing the business,” says Crowell.
Alternatively, for Slappey, the partnership is credited to a higher power. After successfully launching and running 1 Up Gaming Lab along with another partner, the business partnership was severed. Still wanting to bring the vision to life, the solo member inevitably took a step back from the idea.
“I didn’t know how I was going to get this up and running by myself or if at all. I left it alone and I was in church one day and the person who was speaking said someone is going to help you get that business up and running. He said ‘the person you least expect.’ Two days later, Terrence called,” says Slappey.
After some conversation, Crowell and Slappey joined forces to bring gamers the ultimate mobile experience. In the market for a third partner, a close tie was getting ready to enter the partnership and help make it complete.
“Some things fell through, but Slaps and I kept going. His [Slappey’s] mother Markita Richardson came in and all three of us collectively went through the budget, funding process, and brainstormed ideas. We had a few meetings where we laid out the vision for it and the plan for it,” says Crowell. “We wanted to make sure we were all on one accord.”
With knowledge of the business already at hand, the team had an advantage in executing their goals for Round 1 Gaming Lab. An avid gamer, Slappey wanted to ensure the trailer was equipped with top-of-the-line systems and the most in-demand games for a top-notch experience.
“When you come into the gaming lab, you’re stepping into a luxury mobile arcade. Every game that we have in there, outside of Fortnite, is two to four players. That counts co-op, that counts video game play that we did when we were younger. That’s what gets implemented in the trailer. You’re playing right next to the person. That’s what adds to the ambiance of it. You’re not relying on a headset. The person you’re playing with or against is right there,” says Slappey.
A big hit with children, Round 1 Gaming Lab also feeds the inner child in every adult.
“You have to be 6 or older to enter, but we’ve done just as many adult parties as we have kids’ events,” says Slappey.
From humble beginnings, the 1970s were a big time for video games. Steadily growing in popularity, the impact of gaming was yet to be felt. Though early simulations date back to the 1950’s, gaming caught its first big break in 1972 with the formation of Atari.
Now, the video game industry has grown to include several staple consoles, thousands of games and millions of hours of playtime each year.
Round 1 Gaming Lab features classic video games of the past.
“We have just about everything old to new. Some games from 2000, we have it right here. It may not be everything, but if someone asks, we want to make sure that we have it for them,” says Slappey.
As games have evolved, so have the players. Once believed to be a leisure activity for couch potatoes, gaming has grown into an elite system of skill and money. In 2020, the Global Games Market was valued at more than $170 billion. Estimated to climb to more than $300 billion by 2026, the video game industry continues to increase in sophistication forcing indulgers to keep up.