Making sense of the game Utter Nonsense | Bleader

Monday, August 11, 2014

Making sense of the game Utter Nonsense

Posted By on 08.11.14 at 09:02 AM

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Phrase cards and accent cards
  • Utter Nonsense Kickstarter
  • Phrase cards and accent cards

As far as Chicagoans Tim Swindle and Dave Mazurek are concerned, "orgasm" is an accent.

Swindle's a software entrepreneur and Mazurek's a commercial real estate developer, but in their spare time the two friends have been working on creating a card game. They've played some version of it with friends for more than 11 years and they recently launched a Kickstarter campaign (they reached their $15,000 funding goal on Friday) to bring their beloved party game, called Utter Nonsense: The Inappropriate Accent Game, to the masses. The rules are similar to Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity: the "nonsense judge" selects an accent card, the other players pick a phrase card and say it in that accent, and the player deemed by the judge to have the best accent—that could mean most accurate, least accurate, or most humorous in concert with the selected phrase—wins.

Besides "orgasm," other accents include "valley girl," "robot," "gangbanger," "Asian," and "Indian."

Sound offensive? Swindle and Mazurek say that's the point.

"We want to let people know that, hey, this is an inappropriate accent game," Swindle says. "If that's a problem, don't play. This is not the game for you."

"At the end of the day, it's the player's interpretation of the prompt," Mazurek adds. "You have the discretion to take that as far as you want or keep it as conservative. It all depends on the sense of humor within yourself and in your environment."

Citing Kickstarter success story Cards Against Humanity as inspiration, Swindle and Mazurek set out to make a card game that would juxtapose the goofy with the mature, the witty with the lewd. But while Cards Against Humanity reaches a perfect balance of over-the-top crudity and genuinely smart observations—with sobering combinations like "What ended my last relationship? Pretending to care" and "An Oedipus complex: kid-tested, mother-approved"—Utter Nonsense focuses on intentioned absurdity rather than accidental truths.

"It's a lot of sex and poop jokes," Mazurek says. "In my sense of humor, that’s playful."

That same sense of humor has followed Swindle and Mazurek's friendship since their days in rival fraternities at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Swindle was in Sigma Chi and studied economics and Mazurek was in Alpha Tau Omega, played pitcher for the Fighting Illini, and studied finance. Even after moving from Champaign-Urbana to Chicago, they've preserved some of that college-age boisterousness. A drunk conversation in 2009 led to a four-month-long pet project in which the pair secretly choreographed and rehearsed a breakdance routine to perform at a friend's wedding. Then another drunk conversation this January spawned Utter Nonsense.

"Dave and I were at the Schoolyard [Tavern] up on Southport," Swindle says. "We were like, 'Man, wish we could think of something fun to do on the side. Wait a second, that game we've been playing forever would be great.'"

Swindle and Mazurek spent the following months transforming an old campfire classic into a business and their sex-and-poop humor into a brand. They settled on a 500-card set with 460 phrase cards and 40 accent cards. Phrase cards include one-liners like "She dances the jig well but has a face like a bulldog chewing a bumble bee," and "I've got a missing testicle who could tell you why a parrot is a shitty pet," while accent cards are divided into categories: "socioeconomic stereotypes, geographic locations, emotions, and things," according to Mazurek.

Ultimately, the guys hope they've created a good-time game peppered with R-rated laughs. Whether it's the next Cards Against Humanity remains to be seen.

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