Hootenanny Games' Whitney and Alex Kimerling Share Why the Name 'Hootenanny and More!

by Alex Kimerling | 21 Sep 2023

Biographies and Interviews


MC:  Hi Whitney and Alex! Thank you for taking time during the busy 3rd and 4th quarter to share with us about your newest venture! Ok, right off the bat, I have to ask – what is a hootenanny?


AK:  I knew this was going to be your first question!  Most people in the South know this term well.  It’s a term for a party with great music, some dancing, and definitely a lot of fun and laughter.


MC:  What made you pick Hootenanny Games as your company name?


WK:  Hootenanny is a term that we use regularly in our house.  Whenever our kids pile in bed with us to watch cartoons on Saturday morning, we call that a hootenanny.  Saturday night dance parties with all of us and the dog right in the middle – that’s a hootenanny, too.  Some of our most fun times as a family invoke that word for us, and since our mission is to spark that type of joy for others, we thought Hootenanny Games fit the bill perfectly.  Plus, it just makes you laugh when you say it.


MC:  Alex, you have been in the toy industry for a little while now.  Tell me a little about your background.


AK:  I actually started my post-college career as a mechanical engineer, and then, after getting my MBA and working in a few other startups, I started working for another board game publisher about six years ago.  We brought some really fun games to market like Bob Ross:  Art of Chill, Bye Felicia!, and the Home Alone Game.   It was a steep learning curve, but I got to see all facets of the process in bringing games to life from inception to store shelf.  I was hooked after that.


MC:  Whitney, you are brand new to the industry though.  How did you end up in the game world?


WK:  I practiced law for 12 years, primarily defending manufacturers in product liability litigation all over the country.  Many of my cases were catastrophic injury cases, which really weighs on you.  During the pandemic when Alex and I were both working at home, I saw a stark contrast between his job and mine, and his really piqued my interest.  Alex and I have always wanted to work together, and so, I left my position as a partner at my firm to take this leap.


MC:  So, how is the dynamic of working together?


AK:  We both have different strengths, and that has helped us complement each other well. I think I can speak for both of us when I say it’s been exciting and really rewarding.  The only major pitfall is making sure we can switch off all the work talk so that we are not constantly working on games.  That’s much easier said than done because we both get so wrapped up in new ideas.


MC:  Hootenanny Games is brand new.  When did you start the company?


WK:  The timing felt right in early 2023 for us to both make this move, and we were off to the races.  It’s been a labor of love to build the right team and find the right ideas that really embody the mission of Hootenanny Games so that we were ready to launch our inaugural lineup this fall.


MC:  Tell me a little about the inaugural Hootenanny Games lineup that just launched.


AK:  We really wanted to be deliberate about how we launched, and in doing that, we wanted to provide a lineup that covered a lot of bases – a board game, a card game, a dice game, and a party game.  It took a lot of puzzle pieces to get us to what we felt like was a well-rounded offering, and we are so thrilled with how it came together.  We wanted the games to all be easy to teach and learn and fun to play with not only your family but with your friends, too.  I think we’ve done just that.


MC:  What do your kids think about their parents making games?


WK:  Oh gosh, they love it, and we love having built-in play testers!  They do not hesitate to tell us their unabashed feelings on any concepts we are considering.   I grew up playing games every week with my family, and those are some of my best memories.  I love being able to have those same memories with our boys, which is made even sweeter by being able to play our own games with them.



MC:  Do your kids have a favorite Hootenanny game?

AK:  We can’t play favorites, Mary!  But I guess if we had to pick, they have gotten their entire classes at school hooked on our card game, Snarkas, this year.  They took copies to keep in their classrooms on days when they have indoor recess, and all the kids in the class fight over who gets to play first.  We also made how to play videos for all of our games, and the kids get a kick out of the robots in the Snarkas video, which solidified it as their favorite.


MC:  What’s next for you guys and Hootenanny Games?

WK:  We are so thankful to be on this path, and our goal is to keep building on the foundational games we just launched so that we earn a reputation of developing quality, fun products enjoyed over and over again by all ages.

hootenanny board games

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