Virginia State alum Ray Cunnigham, better known as “Misster Ray” has created the ultimate HBCU board game experience with his new game Yardopoly.
Misster Ray is a multitalented, author, host, TV personality, community advocate, and actor. He is also an HBCU alum as he received his bachelor’s in public relations from Virginia State University and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in media management from there as well. His love for his alma mater and its Mass Communications department is part of the reason he decided to create Yardopoly.
“I want this game to just be a tool and just a remembrance, a great keepsake for where we went to school, the experiences that we had, and who it made us to be,” he said.
Misster Ray came up with the idea for the game during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown.
During the lockdown, he says he was playing a lot of board games to pass the time and discovered the lack of African American experience-centered versions of Monopoly or black characters featured within games. To remedy this he created Yardopoly, the only historically black college board game highlighting student life on the yard.
While answering HBCU culture and history-related trivia questions, paying fines, and collecting fees, players experience both fall and spring semesters at an HBCU with the goal of completing the game by graduating.
Misster Ray wanted players to get a feel for HBCU campus life and what it entails including new student orientation, freshman week, homecoming, campus pageants, student elections, and more.
“I just wanted to have a tool for us that was educational and fun, but also celebrated our culture”– Misster Ray on Yardopoly
Misster Ray sees Yardopoly as a recruitment tool for middle and high school students, so that they may be educated about the history of HBCUs prior to their senior year. The game also targets students, alumni, and supporters of HBCUs as well.
You can play as eight quintessential HBCU student characters including the University Mascot, Band Dancer, Drum Major, University Queen, Jock, University Cheerleader, Fraternity Brother, and Sorority Sister.
Misster Ray provides a variety of black characters with the idea that “representation matters” in mind. As a proud uncle of nine nieces and nephews, he wants them to be able to see themselves in the game.
“It was important for me to have all sizes, all shades, all types of hair textures, and just showing that black kids can aspire to be all these student things within student life,” Mister Ray said.
“You can become anything you want to be at your HBCU of choice. It’s a matter of how you apply yourself, how you position yourself, and what you align yourself with, and I just wanted this game to give them the inspiration to do that.”
Misster Ray revealed that a Greek edition of Yardopoly is currently in the works and encourages students to come out to the Black College Expo for which he is an ambassador, to gain scholarship opportunities. You can also catch Misster Ray in an upcoming film coming to Tubi called “The Assistant.”