Evans game teaches youth financial skills

A holiday game of Monopoly with family members and friends inspired Jason and Tiara Evans of Farragut to create their own board game, one that would help youths with money management skills.

The Evans couple started JAZ-E House Games and created Success, which is being sold in retail stores in five Southeastern cities. Locally, the game can be found at Smart Toys and Books in West Knoxville.

“Catholic High School has bought a couple of games and they’re going to see how they can incorporate [the game] in their finance classes,” Jason, JAZ-E president, said.

Concord Christian School, Ridgedale Alternative School in Knoxville, Tate’s School of Discovery, Project Grad Knoxville, Boys & Girls Clubs and Vine Middle Magnet School also bought games.

Jason Evans has been talking with Tanya Coates, National Education Association executive committee member, about incorporating the game in Knox County Schools, he added.

“For every 50 [games] we sell, we donate a game to Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Jason, a Farragut High School Class of 1999 graduate and a project engineer for GEM Technologies.

Tiara, who was a lead investigator for Tennessee Department of Children’s Safety, now works with Jason on the board game.

The Evanses got together with his mother, Romaine Evans, and sister, Alexis Evans, to design the game.

The idea came about when Tiara bought Jason’s father a Monopoly game for Christmas and the family got together to play on New Year’s Day in 2016, he said.

“You know how everybody has house rules,” he added. “My friend made up his own house rules, but then he was cheating on top of that.”

“We were arguing over all the rules about Monopoly and how everyone has their own rules,” Tiara said.

“My wife said, ‘We might as well make up our own game’ and my mom said, ‘That’s a good idea,’” Jason said.

“We kind of joked about that for the rest of the night,” Tiara said. “Jason, myself and his mom starting throwing out gaming ideas. Jason just took it a lot more seriously than anyone else, so for the rest of January he kept coming home, talking about making this board game.

“We spent countless hours on the couch with a pen and paper, throwing out ideas, scratching out ideas,” she said.

“At first, the game was supposed to be called By Chance but then we turned it into Success, illustrating to be happy in life you don’t have to keep up with the Joneses,” Jason said.

The prototype arrived in the middle of October 2016, he said.

For people interested in creating a board game, he advised, “First come up with a concept — write up a bunch of concepts — then beta test the game by yourself and people you are close to that you trust.

Jason said he came up with the game because he thinks people need to know what life really is about.

“I don’t believe in sugar-coating stuff because it doesn’t really get people prepared for life,” he said.

“Monopoly’s a great game — it shows you how to own something and it also has money management — but not everybody is going to own a bunch of properties and have a bunch of money,” Jason said.

“The Game of Life is a game where you retire a millionaire. Statistically, only five percent of Americans will ever retire with over a million dollars,” Jason added.

Jason already has had feedback from parents, who told him after playing Success it dawned on them life is about paying bills and meeting responsibilities.

“The game also challenges children and teens to think,” Tiara said.

“This game helps with outside-the-box thinking because your situation changes as the game is played out,” Jason added.

For more information about the game, call Jason, 865-386-8443 or go to jaz-ehousegames.com.