Something cool is happening at the STAR Education Center in Culver City. It’s a first-of-its-kind educational program using games to teach kids valuable skills such as literacy, strategic thinking and cooperation. The program is called GameSchool and right now it’s offering classes in game playing through the larger umbrella, as well as offering twice monthly opportunities for families to get together and just play. Game Night, as it’s called, kicked off this week at the non-profit educational organization’s headquarters on Jefferson Boulevard and—if my family’s experience is any indication—it was a wild success.
Our host for the evening was STAR GameSchool Department Head, Jarrod Wolkowitz. For the event, he provided a wide range of games—video games, European board games, collectible/trading card games and even role playing games—and invited a great crowd of families. Walking into the large warehouse-like space, excitement and fun were in the air; but when I spotted a table of older teenage boys playing Dungeons and Dragons, I wondered if we were in the wrong place. Fortunately, Jarrod greeted us warmly and escorted us to some more age-appropriate tables where we met our playmates for the evening.
A dad named Sam had brought his daughter Sadie and her friend Danielle, and a Mom named Angela had brought her daughter, Melani. As luck would have it, all the girls, including Trinity, were roughly the same age. Though the three families had never met before, as soon as we started playing HedBanz—a game in which everyone (moms and dads included) has to guess the name of the object or animal that they’re wearing on their own head—it felt as if we’d known each other for years.
We ended up playing and laughing ‘til what felt like the wee hours, though it was really only 8 p.m. Needless to say, we had to drag the kids away when it was time to go home, promising them all that we’d be back next time.
Afterwards, Trinity remarked that her favorite thing about Game Night was that it was so easy to make friends and Ashton woke up the next morning asking if tonight would be "game night" too.
Whenever possible, Jarrod plans to schedule GameNight every other week and— with an eye to kids' usual variety of practices and lessons—switch the night of the week on which it happens. Best of all, participation in the event will continue to be absolutely free and Jarrod hopes that, in the future, dinner will be served.