Gaming to the Extreme

Game room combines the best of digital and analog toys.

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Imagine the ultimate game room. Is it the one portrayed in the movie Big with Tom Hanks? Maybe it’s a Dave & Busters sports bar in your living room. For me, it’s Tony Stark’s basement in Iron Man. With today’s technology and collaboration between home systems integrators and interior designers, game rooms are no longer 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, and even collectors.

In this space, the Lucas family of Dallas, with the help of local home systems integration firm Eco High Fidelity, created perhaps the ultimate 1,500-square-foot game room that bridges both digital and non-digital pursuits. Jim and Mitzi Lucas wanted a room that included timeless toys and games, combined with modern technology where they could spend quality time with their sons.

Centrally located, well-lit, and flanked by loggia, this game room beckons visitors with great views of the backyard baseball field, and a stairwell that leads to a wine cellar. The room is stocked with pinball machines, slot machines, arcade games, a shuffleboard table, and a pool table that does double-duty for ping-pong. The Lucases personalized the space by blending the game systems with paintings from one of their favorite artists and installing an antique ladder over the shuffleboard table.

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Complementing the old-school analog games are dual 58-inch Panasonic Pro plasma TVs and multiple speakers, powered and controlled by a Crestron home automation system. The Lucases can use a custom-programmed 13-inch in-wall touchpanel, a hard-button MLX-2 Crestron LCD handheld remote, or iPads to operate the system. This multiple-control platform provides flexibility for the family and guests, who can call up content they like from multiple sources, including DirecTV, Apple TV, and a Kaleidescape music server.

Move into the Kids’ Area of the room and you’ll find video gaming and movies galore. There are three TVs, including an 85-inch Panasonic model, for multiple consoles and sources. All are controlled by a sturdy Crestron ML-600 MiniLDC remote and complete with iPad /iPhone control. The multi-screen wall allows the Lucas boys to play video games and watch TV or movies, simultaneously.

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Old and new technology collide in this ultimate game room, owned by Jim and Mitzi Lucas of Dallas. Dual 58-inch Panasonic plasma TVs mingle with vintage arcade games and a pool and ping-pong table.

All of this fun didn’t come easy, however. One of the specialties of Eco High Fidelity is inheriting legacy home systems from all over the country. Countless times in Texas, California, and Hawaii, the company has encountered systems with excellent equipment, but that were installed poorly. This particular historical home is also nearly a century old, with thick plaster walls and multiple floors. In short, it was a home systems integrator’s worst retrofit nightmare.

The Players
Electronics Design & Installation Eco High Fidelity, Carrolton, Texas www.ecohighfidelity.com
Control Programming Pantech Design, Dallas, Texas

Equipment
Control: Crestron
Displays: Panasonic
Sources: Apple TV, DirecTV, Kaleidescape
Network: Pakedge
Receiver: Crestron
Lighting: Lutron

To begin the project, Eco High Fidelity worked out the operational bugs by overhauling the existing Crestron home automation system. Pantech Design, alongside Eco High Fidelity lead technician Jonathan Hughes, evolved and updated the program to eliminate snafus and add iPad control. Jonathan also helped design a Pakedge wireless networking system, providing a solid backbone for all of the technologies to communicate seamlessly with each other.

With the systems refined and a robust communications network established, the Lucas house can continue to be everything it was intended to be: A place that’s just as fun for the adults as it is for the kids, and where technology needs to stay current and completely natural to operate, creating an environment that’s carefree and super cool. EH

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