It’s a typical Thursday night at Fernson Brewing Company, a smattering of customers filters in and out, chatting casually with the bartenders over a tall glass of farmhouse ale while the light from the broad windows flutters over the wooden tables and reflects off the metallic floors.
The calm is momentarily interrupted by a rather distinct group of students laughing as they haltingly piece together the remnants of a song, eventually stumbling together in unison, their voices ringing out across the cavernous tap room.
The alumni are in fact recent Augustana University graduates, and the song they join together in singing—the Augie fight song.
Before them sits a board game appearing to be a version of “Monopoly” complete with paper money, game pieces, plastic houses and a board.
Looking closer, former Augustana presidents replace “Monopoly’s” typical Rich Uncle Pennybags icon. Other game pieces consist of a viking ship, a viking hat, a Norwegian sweater and Ole, the Augustana mascot. The board also features buildings such as the Fryxell Humanities Center and Tuve Hall.
The game is called Augieopoly, an Augustana-specific version of the classic Monopoly board game. Augustana’s marketing team worked in conjunction with 521 Promo, a company dedicated to prototyping custom games, to produce the game that brought these Augustana Alumni together at Fernson’s.
The idea for the game arose from a deliberation on how to help celebrate Augustana’s 100th year in Sioux falls moving into 2019, according to Jennifer Meiners, director of event services at Augustana and member of the marketing team.
“It just fit Augustana really well so when we looked around at companies that would work with us this one worked really well and pieces just kept falling into place,” Meiners said. “The idea behind it is something that’s working right now, it’s a simple way to bond and connect when you’re getting past all of this internet and playing video games and that kind of stuff. There’s something basic and fun and family-oriented about playing a board game, so why not have a special Augie one?”
Planning for the creation and production of the game board began in February 2018 with the finished product finally becoming available in the last two weeks. The game sold near fifty copies before being officially released for viewing and purchase.
The game works the same as Monopoly, the only exception being card instructions relating specifically to Augustana.
“It was trying to balance the history with the currents students so that everybody could play—alumni, students, friends—so it was a really fun research project too in all of this,” Meiners said. “I think once they see how intricate all of the pieces are and all of the detail, they’re gonna love it.”
The game cards as well as paper money house fun facts about Augustana’s history such as, “President Solberg set the course for Augustana University to be a liberal arts institution.”
These fun facts provide an opportunity for currents students, and even alumni, to learn more about the community and its past.
“I really loved the history component,” said Paige Schwitters, 2016 grad and current member of the gold council, whose aim is to keep young alumni involved. “There were a few things that I wasn’t really aware of even after going to Augustana, so that was really fun to kind of look back and see everything involved.”
Once they got into the swing of it, the players, all Augie grads, smiled with each card they drew, remembering all the details of the campus they called home for four years. Laughter, stories and even singing ensued before the game wound down and the alumni were treated to a brewery tour.
“It’s really the whole experience, you know, being in all of these buildings and really thinking about all the memories you made in these buildings and thinking about just the experiences you had on campus and how this game brings those to life is really really fun,” said Schwitters, who believes the game is a great way to strengthen relationships within the Augustana Alumni community.
“It’s maintaining that Augie Advantage—the connection, and really getting to know people who you may not have known while you were on campus, and just continuing the tradition. It’s a special place, and it’s a special place much beyond when you graduate.”