A local family creates a University of Minnesota-themed board game.
Think back to 2020–we all had to find ways to stay entertained while stuck at home. Board games were an outlet for many, but the Sieffert family took their love of games to the next level. Not only did they have their fair share of nights playing Monopoly and cards, but parents Karen and Kent and their children, Collin and Bridgette, put their heads together to create an entirely new board game: GraduateTheU (GTU).
Collin and Bridgette were both attending the University of Minnesota when the first inkling of GraduateTheU sparked. It was family game night, everyone was home due to the pandemic and they started throwing out ideas for a board game based on the University of Minnesota.
“We wanted to create something that would bring people together again,” Karen says.
Collin, Bridgette and Kent all attended the University of Minnesota, and many aspects of the game are inspired from Collin and Bridgette’s personal experiences.
“There are things that are inspired by events that happened to me and my friends,” says Bridgette, president of GTU. “One of my friends broke his foot in his intramural soccer game, so we have a GTU card that says something like, ‘You broke your foot during soccer and miss class for the semester.’”
GTU cards are similar to chance cards in Monopoly; they can either help players move forward by gaining credits or be detrimental, causing them to fall behind. The board is hand and digitally illustrated by Taia Morley and replicates the University of Minnesota campus. The goal? Each player must fill their planner with property cards, land on career and academic spaces, reach 100 credits and graduate first in order to win the game.
Each property card is illustrated with a different quintessential Twin Cities spot, like the Walter Library. You’ll also find fun, historical or interesting facts to go with each building or location. Although GTU pays homage to places on campus, like the iconic shoe tree near the Washington Avenue bridge, it also gives nods to well-known, off campus spots around the Twin Cities, like the Spoonbridge and Cherry, the Mall of America, Mill City Ruins and the Varsity Theater.
“Even if you didn’t go to the U, you’ll still recognize stuff on the board,” Bridgette says.
With GTU, alumni can take a walk down memory lane, current students will notice those monumental spots on campus and prospective students get the chance to learn more about the college before stepping foot on campus.
“The game is really for anyone who loves the state,” Kent says.
The game also gives international students a chance to share their experience with their parents. “If I’m an international student and I’m going to the U, my family may not ever be able to come visit me in Minnesota,” Karen says. “What a neat thing for them to be able to sit down and experience campus!”
As the only Sieffert who didn’t attend the University of Minnesota, Karen explored the campus through planning the game. “I was able to learn a lot about the institution my children were attending,” Karen says. “All of a sudden, I was starting to learn my way around campus, figure out where the buildings are and know where they had walked or studied.”
GTU may be the first stop on a longer journey for the Sieffert family. “We may take this process and apply it to other universities,” Kent says. “That might be phase two.”
Purchase GraduateTheU on its website, at the University of Minnesota Bookstore, the Minnesota Alumni Market and the General Store of Minnetonka.