There’s this little rectangular thing. It lets me talk to people and check my email. I can use it to send texts and take photos. It’s awesome, but sometimes it smothers me. Kingmakers is the antidote for technology’s chokehold. A newly opened board game parlor in the Short North, it challenges you to do something revolutionary. Interact. Think. Laugh. Unplug.
“Playing games is a way to connect with other people,” said Kingmakers co-owner Malika de Silva. “Our cell phone reception is terrible because we're in a very old building underground. We thought people would constantly run to the stairwell to check their phones, but once they’re seated at a table playing, it’s all about the game.”
Kingmakers, which was inspired by Toronto board game café Snakes & Lattes, has sommeliers. Not that kind. These sommeliers know everything about all 250 games in their stacks. All you have to do is show up, pay the $5 “library” fee and say what kinds of games you like to play. Staff members bring out selections based on your preferences and teach you how to play them. During a recent visit, I mentioned that I like word games. They brought out Word on the Street, which I’d never heard of but was loads of fun. When I admitted to being a Battlestar Galactica fanatic, they unfurled the original Parker Brothers Battlestar Galactica game from 1978. I know. They also have the newer version, which I plan to play the frak out of soon.
“There's something about pointing bright orange Styrofoam guns at your friends, trying to escape the sisters, and feeding an adorable panda,” de Silva explained.
De Silva loves the joy and unpredictability of running a board game parlor.
“We’ve suggested that people play with strangers...and then they do, for hours and hours and have a blast,” she said. “Sometimes, our sommeliers stay after their shifts and join the tables they were teaching.”
In the future, Kingmakers plans to partner with local game developers and host themed game nights.
“Creating a place where families and friends can have a great time is making change for the better, even if on a small scale,” said de Silva. “Columbus is a great place to open a small business because fellow business owners and the public are very supportive. It takes a village to start a small business, and we're grateful to be here.”