Spotlight: From bored to board games


courtesy the Holderness family

by Mimi Montgomery

Winter weather means a lot of family time indoors – and too often, a whole lot of screen time, too. Raleigh’s well-known Holderness family is putting their zany energy into an alternative activity they hope will get people off of their phones. The crew famous for their catchy, silly YouTube videos is launching Family Showdown, a board game they’re funding with a Kickstarter campaign. “We are board game people and we love playing games with our family,” says Kim Holderness. “(But) our kids are at the age where just sitting down for 20 minutes is taxing for them.”

The fun, physical game is based on the silly activities the family does around the dinner table, and aims to grasp the attention of players of all ages. In order to move markers through the spaces, players must complete a series of challenges. Being loud and goofy is encouraged: Categories include charades, a scavenger hunt, mental challenges, and singing famous songs only using the word “blah.”

One of the best parts of the game? Locking everyone’s smartphones in the “Phone Jail.” If you look at your phone during the game, you move back 10 spaces – a sure way to set aside social media and text messages, if only for a bit.

Plus, the board game is aesthetically pleasing. Local pop artist Paul Friedrich created the art for the game, and fans will recognize his creatures and whimsical colors from his Onion Head Monster and Man v. Liver cartoons. The Holdernesses say they’re huge fans of Friedrich’s work, too, and knew they wanted to work with him to create a board game that was fun, but didn’t feel totally childish. “We wanted it to be something that if you left it out on your dining room table, it looked like a piece of art,” says Kim. “It’s a cool conversation piece … (Paul is) so different and so creative from anything else out there.”

The game is coming to a table near you in January 2017. As with all things Holderness, it’s really all about togetherness and family. “Everything that we’ve created, including this game, has been based around conversations that we have at our house, just like the videos we make,” says Penn Holderness. “It’s all just about being a family and wanting to embrace that. And I think that’s what this game is about.”   

To order, search “Family Showdown” on