Carlson students create new U board game

Allie Winter

University fans will soon be able to keep the 50,000-person campus right in their closets.

Gopheropoly, a game designed by students in a Carlson School of Management class this year, is available for purchase via www.gopheropoly.com and will be in bookstores by April 2.

The class vice president of marketing Sam Willems said students will enjoy the game because they can share college experiences with family and friends.

“We basically created the ‘U’ inside a box,” she said.

Aside from the name, the game resembles Monopoly in other ways. But instead of using a thimble or a miniature car, the game pieces include Goldy Gopher, the Campus Connector and the “tinman,” a representation of the statute near the mechanical engineering building.

on the web

For more information, go to: www.gopheropoly.com

But players must beware of pop quizzes and unexpected student loan payments. And don’t expect a win without hitting the recreation center to drop the “freshman 15”: All areas of college life are included.

The 2006-2007 Entrepreneurship in Action class created the game over a year-long process.

In the class, Carlson School students are responsible for planning and launching a business.

Class adviser Seth Werner said the course is all student-run, but he’s there for help and guidance while they learn to tackle a real-life business.

“I keep them on track, but we let them make mistakes,” he said. “They do make them, and they have to learn to pick up and move on.”

Students spent the first few weeks of the semester brainstorming until finally the class brought three ideas to the board of directors. Two ideas were approved, splitting the class into two groups.

Zlata Karpas, vice president of sales for the Gopheropoly team and senior finance major, said generating the business plan was no easy task.

“We really struggled with figuring out what would be a good business idea,” Karpas said. “We wanted to do something fun that we’d enjoy spending the rest of the year on.”

After their plan got the green light, the real work began. The students faced many challenges, including getting a license, marketing and selling the product, to name a few.

Willems, a senior marketing and entrepreneurship major, said it was more work than she ever expected.

“It was initially supposed to be 15 hours a week, but it’s been more than that,” she said.

The students and teacher know the effort put into this project.

“They’ve put their blood, sweat and tears on the table,” Werner said.

The students began selling the game in December 2006, before the board was designed, with a goal of having the game ready by Grad Fest.

“It’s hard to convince somebody to throw down money on a product they haven’t seen,” Karpas said. “We tried to gain credibility.”

Their struggle was short-lived. The 18-person class has sold 1,000 games already in bulk sales, many coming from the athletics department, Karpas said.

“It is a great gift idea,” Karpas said. “Who isn’t sick of getting sweatshirts or notebooks with the ‘U’ on it?”

The game costs about $30 and all proceeds go back to the University. And after all the hard work, the students said they are pleased with the outcome.

“We did a good job,” Karpas said. “We underestimated our abilities.”