Niska-Game has Monopoly on fun

A Niska-Game player gets stuck at the Niskayuna Transfer Station, the real-life equivalent of getting into jail in the board game. She has to climb into a trash can to wait for freedom. Photo: Rebecca IsenhartA Niska-Game player gets stuck at the Niskayuna Transfer Station, the real-life equivalent of getting into jail in the board game. She has to climb into a trash can to wait for freedom. Photo: Rebecca Isenhart

By Kristin Schultz

Gazette Reporter

David Holland is a three-time Niska-Game champion and he’s back for more — but this time as a volunteer.

Niska-Game is the fundraiser for the community action organization N-CAP. N-CAP puts on Niska-Day and hosts educational sessions and programs throughout the community. Niska-Day draws around 10,000 people every year.

Holland and his friends played the game all through their middle school years. Niska-Game is essentially a life-sized game of Monopoly. Players physically move themselves around a game board amassing properties and trying not to go to jail.

“Monopoly was my favorite game [as a kid],” Holland said. “And [Niska-Game] looked like fun.”

Holland also figured out that the more money he raised, the better the team’s chances of winning. Each team gets a set amount of Niska-Game money to start, then gets more game cash for every real dollar raised.

After Holland graduated from Niskayuna High School in 2010, he attended The College at Brockport and graduated from there in 2014. He moved to Orlando, Florida, and then he and his girlfriend moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, before returning to the Capital Region. Now married, the pair settled back in Niskayuna.

“I knew I wanted to volunteer and give back,” Holland said. “Anybody can work at the food pantry or pick up litter. [Niska-Game] was fun as a kid and I knew it didn’t just happen, so I got involved last year.”

With volunteer turnover, Holland has taken on more responsibilities this year. He is soliciting donations and sponsorships, ordering T-shirts and recruiting volunteers to help register student teams.

This year’s game will be held on Friday, Nov. 3, and Saturday, Nov. 4.

Team members roll life-size dice while another team member acts as the game token, moving along the board. If the player lands on a property, the team decides if they want to buy the property or pay rent.

There are three kinds of special spaces: Knowledge Net, Community Service and Skit. When team members landed on those spaces, they had to answer a trivia question or perform a skit for the judges. If they did well, they earned more game money, candy or a new position on the board.

Teams wear matching T-shirts and the winners receive gift cards and prizes donated by local businesses.

N-CAP aims to raise $5,500 at this year’s game.

Students can sign up their teams during lunch over the next couple of weeks.