David O’Keefe in his Game Shuttle mobile video game arcade. Below the outside of the shuttle. — Photo by Danette Dooley/Special to The Telegram
Sitting home on a stormy night last year, David O’Keefe’s mind wandered back to the great times he and his buddies had playing video games in their youth.
O’Keefe grew up in the west end of St. John’s, the youngest of five children. Nintendo was popular back then, but not everyone was lucky enough to own a game system.
“I didn’t have one, but my buddy did. So we’d all throw in a couple of bucks on a Friday night and go to his house and rent video games. It was a lot of fun and it kept us out of trouble,” the 43-year-old said.
On that blustery winter’s night in 2010, O’Keefe also thought about how the video game industry has exploded in the last three decades.
Determined to start his own business, he researched gaming options not available in the province.
The result of his efforts is a 28-foot limo bus that he’s turned into a mobile video game arcade.
Powered by a generator, the Game Shuttle has four 40-inch televisions, two Xbox 360s, two Wii systems, a PlayStation 3 and more than 30 video games.
The bus has enough seating for 16 players to play at a time, four players to each TV.
A Newfoundlander living in Nova Scotia renovated and customized the vehicle, O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe does not drive people around in the bus, but rather parks it in front of the renter’s home or in their driveway.
It’s a family-oriented business, he says, and children as young as five can come onboard and play games appropriate for their age. “Mom and Dad can choose a selection of games and we’ll only give the children those games. We’ll remove all others from the bus.”
While he owns the business, O’Keefe doesn’t plan on quitting his job as a courier anytime soon.
He said the Game Shuttle is an investment in his future.
“I got to the point where I knew I could stay where I am and retire at 65, but I didn’t want to take that route. The province is doing really well and the city is doing really well. I wanted to get in on that.”
One of the first people O’Keefe brought onboard the bus when it arrived from Nova Scotia in August was his mother.
He said she was flabbergasted.
“She didn’t have video games back in her day.”