May 27, 2016 | By Chuck Carlson
The first game was Read Between the Wines. The new game is Brew Ha Ha! And the third game, currently in the midst of some serious research and development, is called Whiskey Business.
And they are all part of an online startup, Uncorked Games.
Sense a theme?
Audra Quinn, '03, laughs. She knows how it looks.
But the Royal Oak native isn't as interested in alcohol and the consumption thereof as she is camaraderie and fun and, yes, perhaps making a few bucks.
An English and communication studies major with a journalism minor at Albion (and a former editor of The Pleaid) who now writes full-time for a mutual fund company in Los Angeles, Quinn created Uncorked Games as a pet project.
Indeed, her first game grew from a family trip to a winery in Traverse City.
"There's so much comedy in the lofty way people talk about wine," Quinn said. "There is a level of snootiness about wine. You can say anything about wine and you're not going to be wrong. We began riffing off that and someone said, ‘You ought to make a game about this. We'd buy it.'"
So Quinn, along with her partner Lars Thorn, created Read Between the Wines, a card game that includes phrases and terms that, Quinn says, is best played with at least four people and at least four different types of wine per round. Players sample the wine and write down answers to the theme card they drew that explains what the wine tastes like. For example, "If this wine had a job, what would it do?"
The best answers receive votes and the player with the most points at the end is the winner.
The game was introduced in 2014 and, through crowdfunding site Kickstarter, Quinn raised $28,000 to market the game.
"You can make it happen with the power of the crowd," said Quinn, who was intrigued by crowdfunding as she earned her MBA at Pepperdine University. "Creating something new, it's a great way to launch and gauge demand."
That game can now be found in wine bars and some restaurants and can also be purchased through Amazon.
She's using a similar template with Brew Ha Ha!, a game focusing on craft beers.
"It was a natural evolution," she said. "Craft beer is also a passion of mine. In L.A., craft beer is real big. It's a great way to sample local flavor and it's a fun thing to do while you're beer tasting. The craft beer scene is blowing up and they all have their unique stories."
The crowdfunding effort began May 1 and concludes June 1 with the hope of raising of $15,000 to distribute and market the game. As of May 27, the game has 258 backers who have pledged more than $13,000.
"It's fun for people who don't know that much about beer," she said, adding, "It's a minimum of four beers to sample and no more than six because we want people to drive home safely."
Then she laughs.
"When you run out of beer you can go into character assassination and talk about people as if they were beer," she said. "It's just a lot of fun."
Quinn said she's seen interest in her new game growing, and she received a boost recently when Marshall's Dark Horse Brewing Co. purchased a copy of the game.
As for Whiskey Business, Quinn said its future will depend on how well the other two perform.
"There's definitely interest," she said. "It's just a matter of getting eyeballs on it."