Imagine the ultimate game room.
Is it the one portrayed in the movie Big with Tom Hanks or maybe a Dave & Busters sports bar in your living room? For me it is Tony Stark’s basement in Iron Man (he has the best toys). No matter our age, we all get excited at the prospect of a fun game room filled with all of the toys we grew up with and dreamed about.
With today’s technology and collaboration between integrators and designers, game rooms no longer encapsulate just a big screen TV and a pool table. They have evolved as have the architecture and technology that go into them. And they serve a vital purpose for families, entertainers, even collectors.
In this space, the Lucas family of Dallas created perhaps the ultimate game room—bridging both today’s digital and non-digital pursuits. Jim Lucas, a.k.a. the second coolest dad in the world (after mine) built the 21st-century backyard ballpark (featured previously) and also wanted a room that included ageless toys and games, combined with modern technology. The Lucas family works hard and plays hard—and nothing is more important to Jim and Mitzi Lucas than time spent with their sons.
The Game Room Goods
Centrally located, well-lit, and flanked by loggia, this game room beckons and compels visitors with great views to the backyard baseball field. Adjacent is a stairwell that leads to the wine cellar.
The room is stocked with a series of pinball machines, slot machines, arcade games and a shuffleboard table. The pool table does double-duty for ping-pong. The Lucas’ decorated the space to blend the game systems with paintings from one of their favorite artists and a very cool antique ladder over the shuffleboard table.
Complementing the always fun and endearing games are dual 58-inch Panasonic Pro plasma TVs and multiple speakers, powered and controlled by a Crestron home automation system. The Lucas’ can use a custom-programmed 13-inch in-wall touch panel, hard button MLX-2 Crestron LCD handheld remote, or iPad control to operate the systems. This multiple control platforms allows flexibility for the family and guests. The system can play multiple sources, including DirecTV, Apple TV, and the high-end Kaleidescape music server simultaneously through each of the displays, so the family can watch the game on TV and engage with the room’s many fun pursuits.
The second portion of the game room dedicated to the kids’ area focuses on video gaming and movies. It boasts three TVs for multiple gaming and sources controlled through the Crestron system. Controlled by a sturdy Crestron ML-600 MiniLDC remote and completed with iPad /iPhone control, the system allows the Lucas boys to play a variety of video games and also watch TV or movies simultaneously.
The room also has a massive movie collection and game area for chess, Legos and just about any fun game from your childhood.
A Retrofit Nightmare
All of this fun didn’t come easy. One of the specialties of my company, Dallas-based Eco High Fidelity, includes inheriting existing systems all over the country. Countless times in Texas, California and Hawaii we have encountered systems with excellent equipment but plagued with service issues and antiquated installation techniques. Our team was the third integrator in several years to inherit a challenging system plagued with existing issues. The house is also near a century old, in historic Dallas, with thick plaster walls and multiple floors. In short, it’s a retrofit nightmare.
First we worked out the bugs by overhauling the existing Crestron home automation system. Jane Hughes of Integrating Control Systems, alongside nephew and Eco High Fidelity lead technician Jonathan Hughes, evolved and updated the program to eliminate bugs and added iPad control. Jonathan also helped design the Pakedgevirtual cell wireless network that brought everything together and provided a solid backbone for the system. The existing gear and new equipment stabilized the Crestron system and allowed us to focus on the fun of customizing the house.
Fostering Family Unity
The Lucas house is a great example of backyard living and indoor entertainment. The environments they have created are not only full of very cool technological solutions, they are a great example of family togetherness.
This house sets the bar by creating an environment where the kids can play and the adults can have fun, too. In this day where there are many options outside of the house, the Lucas family has created an awesome space for family entertainment and togetherness. Did I mention they have shuffleboard?
TecHome Selling Point
Game rooms like this may seem excessive, but they can be great selling point for buyers interested in raising families with wholesome values and unity, entertaining their friends, and yes, let’s face it: showing off a bit (or a lot). They’re also great places for homeowners to display collections—whether art or arcade games—and giving in to nostalgia.
Tommy Kissell is the owner of Eco High Fidelity, an electronics and solar integration firm in the Dallas area with a focus on environmentally friendly and energy-efficient home solutions.