Get your Game Face on: It’s Family Game Night!

Olivia Blase

Enjoy time with your family and make new friends at this weekly event, featuring your favorite games and more!

It’s old news for most – research is showing that families in Western cultures are spending less time together. Amid our busy schedules of soccer practice, tutoring, lunch meetings and late nights at the office, it can be hard for many families to find time to just be together.

Coming from a family of five, Hannah Cash knows this all too well. Her parents and siblings know the craziness of multiple drop-off and pick-up times for varying activities. But for the last two years, the Cash family has found a weekly setting where they can enjoy time together and with others – Family Game Night!

Since the inception of game night two years ago, Hannah, 16, and her family have been faithful participants. Thursday nights at 6:30 p.m. in the Rink at Northland, they gather with other families to spend a few hours of fun together. Over time, Hannah has grown from being a faithful attendee to serving regularly at game night. “I have always been passionate about sports, but game night has shown me that there are even more points of connection to be had with people!”

Started by James Li, Family Game Night was meant to be just that – a fun, family-friendly environment that not only gives families a place to have fun together, but to also be a point of connection to the greater Northland family.

One such family recently found this connection, as a mother and her two children were new to Northland and were looking for a way to get more involved. They visited game night, and the children made some instant friends. From there, they got involved in student ministries, and North Sports and Games. The next week they brought their dad, and a weekly family tradition of spending quality time together was born.

“Game night has something for everyone,” Hannah remarks. From video games like Nintendo Switch or “Just Dance 2018” to board and card games of all types (“Irk” , Settlers of Catan, Codenames, Uno, etc.), families can spend time together over a favorite game, or just make new friends.

In addition to video and board games, sports is an important element to family game night, giving an opportunity for a larger group experience. Each week there is a different group sport like hockey, basketball, 4 square, and now, tennis!

“The tennis element is a fun new addition!” James Li says. A congregant, Thad Hawkes of USTA Florida, was excited to hear in one of Pastor Matt’s sermons that he was once a college tennis player. Driven by his love for Northland and his passion for tennis, Thad looked for a way to offer his expertise to his community. Later, he found out about game night and tennis was added to the mix of group games!

Flying balls and shuffling cards are not the only draw to Family Game Night. One of the main attractions are the bright TV screens that illuminate the faces of groups of kids playing video games. The word “group” is key here.

“It’s cool when parents see that video games can be played in a healthy and productive way,” Hannah shares. “We have a lot of kids come who are used to playing single-player games, but we only play multi-player video games.”

Adding further emphasis on the community aspect of Family Game Night, Hannah and others have noticed that many kids who once exhibited anger and frustration in group settings have now grown through them to be able to take newcomers under their wings and teach them.

“It has been really cool to see kids grow and bust out of their shells through playing video games in community,” Hannah says.

James often remarks that the video game world is an “unreached” demographic. Studies have uncovered that more than 60 percent of American households have a device for playing video games, with about the same number of households containing at least one gamer. Family Game Night’s emphasis on infusing the video game experience with face-to-face community is one way that James, Hannah and others seek to make an impact.

Hannah notes the power of seeing kids from all backgrounds – “jocks” and “nerds” alike – coming together to have fun and play with their families. Add to the mix the family element, with parents and kids spending quality time together, and it’s a weekly event that she never wants to miss. And after two years of investing in this community, she knows firsthand the power of spending a few hours a week enjoying quality time with her Northland family.

“I believe the best way to make disciples is through relationships,” she reflects. “And to have a relationship, you need to relate to people. What better way than through games and sports...they’re universal!”

Hannah personally knows the universal nature of games and sports for relating to other people. In the summer of 2016, she visited Ukraine to serve during summer camp with Hope For Orphans. Despite cultural and language barriers, she used her knowledge and love for sports and games to lead daily group games with the youth and kids. The experience was life-changing as Hannah saw the power games and sports can have across borders, across social lines and across cultures.

“Going to a church service every week is important,” Hannah concludes. “But sometimes we forget the ‘play’ is just as important of Kingdom work.”

Each week, Family Game Night is visited by long-time Northlanders and by families who have never stepped foot in a church. It is a place where your neighbors, co-workers, friends and FAMILY are all welcomed! All you need is a willingness to play, meet new people and have some fun.

Oh, and don’t forget to put your game face on!


Family Game Night
Who: Families
What: Family Game Night - Sports, Board Games, Video Games
When: Thursday nights 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Where: Northland Rink Game Room
Why: To have fun!
How: Just show up