By Kelline Linton, Staff Writer
Brad Engel, the owner of Tuscany’s Coffee House on South First Street, has not only provided the community an atmosphere for customers to play a variety of board games over a cup of coffee; he has participated in the creation of a game that is unique to Abilene. While Engel’s independent coffee house is recognized as a place to mingle with friends, listen to live music and enjoy an extensive selection of board games, a new entertainment will soon appear among the coffee-craving crowd: Abileneopoly.
Engel and his partner, Bridget West, created Abileneopoly, a board game similar to Monopoly but with an Abilene theme and positive twist to the rules. The board featured no jail but had a downtown where players shopped until they rolled doubles.
“This allowed us to picture downtown businesses in a positive light,” Engel said.
Each design space on the board is a recognized Abilene fixture, including The Grace Museum, Frontier Texas! and KTAB news. According to Engel, the creators wanted at least one business from each different industry.
“We wanted to give players a feel for everything that is in Abilene,” he said.
Eight days after the Abileneopoly idea was pitched in February 2007, Engel and West had the whole game designed, and each business space was filled. A list of 300 businesses still wanted to feature on the board.
Kent’s Harley-Davidson, specialty gift shop Jordan Taylor & Co. and Busch Jewelers could be found next to the Abilene Zoo, Cassandra’s Gift Shop and the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. Abilene’s three universities- ACU, McMurry and Hardin Simmons-were all on the board as well.
The game was an Abilene community investment. Each business purchased their design space to help cover the cost of game production. American State Bank provided the game’s fake money, Senter Realtors supplied the houses and Whitten Inn provided the hotels.
Dan Carpenter, marketing and public relations director of The Grace Museum, was a major contributor in the game’s marketing. CA Graphics created the board’s design work, and Steve Butman Photo provided the downtown profile picture for the board’s center, which prominently displays buildings, including the Windsor Hotel.
Abileneopoly will be available to the community in October and will be sold in local businesses and the Mall of Abilene for $19.99. The game will be “extremely high quality and as classy as Abilene,” Engel said.
Hundreds of games have already been pre-ordered by local businesses, and Engel and West plan on a total sale of 20,000 to 30,000 games.
The proceeds from Abileneopoly’s sales will go to West’s non-profit organization Inspire Greatness, a leadership education organization that inspires children and adults to learning and edification.
A promotional Abileneopoly tournament will take place Feb. 1-3. Players can enter the competition for $25 a person, but they must also provide their own game boards. Prizes include a new car and a vacation package. All proceeds will benefit Inspire Greatness.
“I really have no interest in Monopoly; I have a great interest in Abilene,” West said. “My hope in creating Abileneopoly was to put together something that represented a piece of our town and showed the strength of who we are and where we live.”
Engel liked the idea of the game because “there were so many wonderful places and benefits to Abilene that needed to be explained.”
“I don’t play board games; I do have a joy and love for this city,” Engel said.
Some ACU students agreed with Engel and West’s goals. “Abilene is its own little world, and people don’t understand Abilene,” said Shevaun Zabihi, sophomore biology major from Albuquerque, NM. “I think [this game] would be a cool way for people to see that Abilene is a cute little town.”
Other ACU students had mixed feelings about the new game. “I would buy [Abileneopoly] because I think it would be fun to play with other people who go to Abilene Christian; it’s going to be as fun as the real Monopoly, probably more fun,” said Carrie Gallman, junior interior design major from Sugarland.
Why should students take advantage of the Abileneopoly game? West summed it up best: “Play where you live, and love where you play.”