Earlier this year I created a card game with Tim Swindle (U. of Illinois Sigma Chi ’02), called Utter Nonsense. It’s a game where players combine accents with outrageous phrases to create sayings that are just plain ridiculous.
How did you get the idea for the game?
Tim and I started playing a similar game 11 years ago that was originally introduced to us by Matt Katsaros (Gamma Zeta ‘02) and his wife Stacey. In January we decided to iterate on that concept and created Utter Nonsense.
Give us some examples of how it’s played.
Each Utter Nonsense game set includes 40 Accent Cards and 460 unique Phrase Cards. Accent Cards consist of speech patterns stereotypically associated with places, socioeconomic groups, and things (e.g. Chicagoan, British, Redneck, Valley Girl, Robot, etc.). Phrase Cards are short sayings that range from witty to outrageous. Once an Accent Card is revealed for the round, players select one Phrase Card from their hand of 7, and say it in the accent indicated. Sometimes phrases pair well with the accent, but for the most part they don’t – and that’s Utter Nonsense.
Who might enjoy Utter Nonsense (i.e. who is your target market)?
Utter Nonsense is for anyone with a politically incorrect sense of humor. One of my favorite aspects of the game is that players can interpret accent and phrase combinations however they see fit. For instance, if the Chicagoan Accent Card is revealed, I think of Bears superfans, whereas someone else might have a completely different idea of what a Chicagoan sounds like. And depending on the group you’re playing with, you can select a Phrase Card that suits that audience and decide how far you want to push the envelope on inappropriateness.
You brought the game to market on Kickstarter. Many of us have heard of Kickstarter… but fill us in… how exactly does it work?
Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform for creative projects. It’s just like any other retail website, only consumers (i.e. “Backers”) place pre-orders for projects that haven’t been manufactured yet. Project creators use the sales proceeds to fund their first production run, which reduces the financial risk associated with inventory. If a project creator doesn’t get enough pre-orders to achieve their funding goal, Backers get their money returned, whereas if the goal is reached, Backers are the first get the product.
If we’re interested in getting involved with Utter Nonsense or even just buying it, what can we do?
You can become a Backer of Utter Nonsense by going to Kickstarter at the following site: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/timswindle/utter-nonsense-the-inappropriate-accent-game
If you like the game, back it and share the website with your friends and family. If you have feedback or questions, you can contact us through the Utter Nonsense Kickstarter website or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is it going so far? Are you meeting your investment objectives and when should we expect to see this on the market? Can we get it now?
Tim and I are trying to raise $15,000 and are nearly 50% of the way there after our first week. We are ahead of pace thus far but still need your support to make this project come to life. The Utter Nonsense Kickstarter page is the only place to get the game at this time, and it will ship ~60 days after the campaign ends.
Is Utter Nonsense just a hobby or do you see this as a long term deal?
Utter Nonsense is a passion project, but one that I’m fully committed to making a reality. Aside from Utter Nonsense, I have a full-time career in commercial real estate development that I will continue to be engaged in.
Good luck with Utter Nonsense! Now, can you tell us a little about your college and ATO experience? How did you end up at the U of I?
I chose Illinois because I thought it would provide the best overall college experience; an opinion that was heavily influenced by Joe Walsh (Gamma Zeta ’02) who is one of my best high school friends. It’s funny how a 17-yr old’s priorities are established, I thought it was important to have a wingman when venturing away from home for the first time. Looking back, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What was your rush experience like? Why did you choose ATO?
Joe Walsh was also the one who introduced me to ATO. Going into U of I, I had no clue what the Greek system was all about and had no intention of joining a fraternity. I remember walking back to the dorms after accepting our bids on the last day of fall rush, asking Joe, “What did we just sign up for?” Little did I know that the next semester would form bonds with a group of guys that I’d be friends with for the rest of my life.
What are some of your favorite memories of your ATO experience?
Events at the house such as Outhouse and Taulloween were always good times, and of course Walk-Out in New Orleans was ridiculous. That said, one of the incredible things about living with 100+ guys is that any moment had the potential to become a memory. Some of the best times spun out of simple things like coming home from class and starting an impromptu game of knockout in house basketball court or playing cards after dinner. All you had to do is take a lap around the house and there was always something to do.
You were a varsity athlete… maybe even the last I-Man that Gamma Zeta has had. That must have been difficult to balance school, the fraternity and varsity sports. What was that like and how did you manage it?
Pre-registration and test files… Seriously though, I believe that anything is manageable if you attack your top priorities sequentially on any given day and reset those priorities as necessary.
Would you recommend a fraternity experience to other varsity athletes? What would have to change in the fraternity to allow it to be a reasonable choice for varsity athletes again… we used to have many and it’s been over 10 years now since we’ve had any?
I absolutely recommend it and think the only reason it’s not more prevalent is awareness – just educate the freshman athletes on the upside of joining. Most guys I played with had the mindset that their teammates were their fraternity and figured there was no reason to join a house.
After graduation, I understand that you had some experience in the professional baseball ranks. What was that like and how far did you get?
I played three years in the minors, making it to High-A within the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates farm systems. I feel incredibly fortunate to have experienced it and wouldn’t have traded it for anything, but it was the opposite of glamorous. Essentially, it was an extension of college life; only swap living in the dorms for a bus. The movie Bull Durham does a pretty good job of depicting it.
What did you do career wise after baseball and what are you doing now?
I’ve been working in commercial real estate since baseball ended and currently develop senior housing communities for a real estate investment company in Chicago.
Beyond your involvement with Utter Nonsense, tell us a little bit about your personal life now… hobbies, family, special interests? Still in touch with any of your ATO brothers?
The best byproduct of going to U of I is the friendships that are retained because so many people move to Chicago after college. Professionally, there is a strong ATO contingent in Chicago real estate and I spend most of my free time traveling and partaking in snow and water sports with the ‘02’s and 02.5’s.
One last question… do you ever pick up a baseball anymore and think about maybe learning the knuckler and making a comeback?
I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out and am definitely at peace with baseball. I think the next time I pick up a ball will be challenging Kevin Kennedy (Gamma Zeta ’02) to see if one of us can throw a softball across the Chicago River at next year’s MS Walk charity post-party at Lizzie McNeil’s.