Like many, I find it difficult to balance my gaming habits and my professional life. I don't, however, have the most normal day job. I'm in a band called HelloGoodbye and we tour many months out of the year.
I love my job. I wouldn't trade it for anything but when it comes to gaming, it has it's pros and cons:
Pro: When not touring, I have almost the entire day to play however much or little I desire. Minus time for meals, personal hygiene, and my fiancé (she's home at 5 in bed by 9…it's no biggie), I'm working with a potential 13 hours of free and clear gaming time. On some days, I'll use almost all of that time. I call those days, "weekdays".
Con: Touring is like 90 per cent driving. The other 10 per cent is divided among sitting around the venue, playing your set, sleeping, or any combination of the three.
The majority of bands travel one of three ways: plane, bus, or van.
If you travel by plane, chances are, your days are filled with finding other ways to spend your ridiculous amount of money (cocaine, yachts) and hanging out with Madonna. I doubt finding time to play video games is of any concern to you.
If you travel via bus, congratulations. A typical bus is equipped with two flat screen TV's (40-inch minimum) and surround sound. One TV for each of the lounges. Hook up your favourite console(s) and presto, it's like you've never left your couch. In fact, you'd likely be sitting on a couch because buses have those too. About once a year, we'll splurge and take out a bus. Multiplayer games upfront and singleplayer adventures in the back. It's a win-win.
The remainder of the year, we're in a trusty 15-passenger van towing a trailer full of gear. In said trailer are guitars, amps, merchandise, various cables, and the most importantly, the Mobile Gaming Unit.
The unit is comprised of a roadcase housing an Xbox 360, a 22-inch TV, a power conditioner, four controllers and plenty of games. So precious, that it is the first piece of gear to be loaded out and the last to be loaded in. All one needs to do is flip up the top and plug it in. Perfect for dressing room gaming.
But what if there's not enough space in the room? Simple, wheel it into the hallway or onto the venue floor and become the envy of the entire tour and local crew.
It's also perfect for days off. Why go out to see the local sights and landmarks of any particular city when you can bring it into the hotel room and order a pizza.
The Mobile Gaming Unit allows you to keep up with your gaming habits while hundreds of miles from home. When Black Ops was released we bought it that morning and played it that afternoon. No longer does one have to wait until a tour is finished only to realise that their skills have rusted in the process.
Now I admit, the Mobile Gaming Unit isn't ideal for all games. For instance, I wouldn't use it to dive into something like Mass Effect 2 or Dead Space. With people coming in and out of the dressing room and bands often playing, it's near impossible to follow the games plot or appreciate any atmosphere it presents. The screen is smaller than one would prefer and many of the controllers have begun to stick with mystery fluids. The unit is best suited for quick, multiplayer sessions. Games like Black Ops or Left 4 Dead 2 are great because they include a larger group of people and there's no real dialogue or story to follow. It's a surefire way to get to know the members of the other bands.
The best way to stay sane on the road is to make it feel as much like home as possible. For a gamer, laptops, iPhones and handhelds only go so far. Minus the urine-stained couches and lack of heating, our Mobile Gaming Unit has been paramount in making the backstage of a Detroit club feel more like my Long Beach living room. It's truly something I recommend every van-traveling, game-playing band look into building.
As I wrap this up, we're about an hour from tonight's venue in Houston, TX. I'm not too worried about the pre-sale or what's' within walking distance. I'm more concerned about whether or not there's a good place to keep the unit… and chairs. We'll need a few chairs.
HelloGoodbye are on tour now playing shows and games throughout the US and Canada. Dates can be found at their site.