Kingmakers operations manager Clarissa Degan and Indianapolis location manager Beth Resler host a Jackbox game night on livestreaming platform Twitch April 13. Credit: Steve Alostaz | Lantern Reporter

Although COVID-19 restrictions have dealt many local businesses a bad hand, Kingmakers is putting all its cards on the table with a new online strategy.

The Short North board game parlor, which is home to more than 400 board games, is currently closed following March 23 orders by Gov. Mike DeWine to shut down nonessential businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Malika Jacobs, owner of Kingmakers, said staff members have started hosting virtual game nights on livestreaming platform Twitch

“When the means by which you served guests for over six years collapses over a few nights, it’s an opportunity to reconsider business as usual,” Jacobs said. “Our team loves what they do, so we grieved what was for a bit, then got to work saving and delivering the core experience of Kingmakers: cultivating a community of play.”

There are three different types of game nights that are hosted each week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, Clarissa Degan, operations manager at Kingmakers, said. She said a full public events calendar will be posted to Kingmakers’ website soon.

Jackbox Game Nights, hosted every Monday, typically run for one hour and consist of a variety of competitive, smartphone-based games that pit players against one another in tasks ranging from drawing funny pictures to making up lies, Degan said.

Roll-and-Write Game Nights, hosted every Wednesday, consist of simple tabletop games that involve rolling dice or flipping cards and filling in your own personal game sheet. Participants may be asked to download a PDF file prior to playing, which can be found on Kingmakers’ Instagram page.

Trivia Game Nights, hosted by Quizmaster Mark — who used to lead trivia at Kingmakers’ Indianapolis location — take place every Thursday and consist of four rounds of trivia, including various themed rounds that are not revealed until the game begins.

The trivia night is the most popular of the three, with more than 20 teams participating on average, Degan said. At the end of the event, both first- and second-place teams are awarded game passes to Kingmakers once it reopens.

“I personally enjoy playing while also hosting a video chat with my team so we can discuss answers,” Degan said. “But it’s also great to play solo because Mark is very charismatic and makes it super fun.”

Both the Jackbox and Roll-and-Write events are hosted by Kingmakers’ board game experts who worked at the Columbus, Ohio, location when it was open, Degan said.

Degan said most of the games are fairly simple, but hosts still start each game night by explaining the rules. For some more complicated games, hosts may ask participants to watch a quick tutorial in addition to hosting a Q&A session before beginning.

The events are free and open to anyone with internet access who wants to play, Degan said. Participants may take part alone or with friends and family.

All of the hosts are volunteering their own time to make the events possible and are not currently bringing revenue in to Kingmakers, Degan said.

“We love to bring people together over games. We felt it was important to keep people playing and laughing by giving them something fun to look forward to each week,” Degan said. “Even though the format is different from how we usually operate, the feeling is still there and that brings us so much joy.”

The Jackbox and Roll-and-Write Game Nights are at 6:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, respectively, and Trivia Game Nights start at 7:30 p.m. every Thursday. More information and links to the game nights can be found on Kingmakers’ Instagram.