The Daily Press covers recent Gray Matters Games success

As an Escanaba, Michigan local, Joe Barron, Founder of Gray Matters Games, is highlighted in a recent Daily Press feature. As Gray Matters Games launches Ridiculous Expositions in Target, the paper celebrates the toy and game company's recent success.


Here's what The Daily Press had to say: 

Escanaba native creates board game

ESCANABA — A former Escanaba man and his wife have created their second board game which will be sold by a major retail store beginning in August. 

Joe Barron, his wife, and two dogs Ruby and Gipper, reside in Glen Ellyn, Ill. Joe is the mastermind behind the clever games that feature family fun while also stimulating brain activity. His wife, Lauren, assists Joe and performs other tasks within their game company, “Gray Matters Games.”

The Barron’s first board game, “You-Bet-Cha!,” is being sold online on Amazon, and in select stores, including Sayklly’s Confectionary and Gifts in downtown Escanaba. The whimsical, trivia game features a “poker style” feel as players can bet against each other on how many answers they can give in one minute. This game is generally for players ages 14 and up, explained Joe during a recent interview with the Daily Press. 

The newest game, “Ridiculous Expositions,” is aimed towards adults 17 and older, noted Joe. It features fun and unique plays on words including “All Ask Can Pie Plane” which players would have to decode to “Alaskan pipeline.”

According to Joe, the idea for the game has been in the works for around 10 years. He and his friend would always joke that they should make a “bad” version of the game “Mad-Gab.” In this popular Mattel Game, players are asked to read groups of simple words together until they “hear the answer.” Joe said the creation of the game cards, rules, and design for “Ridiculous Expositions” took a little over a year. 

“Rid-Ic-U-Lous Ex-Pos-It-Ions,” is loosely based on the “Mad Gab” concept explained Joe, with some twists. 

The adult humored 400 card game has players splitting up into two teams, with the objective of getting the most points after five rounds of play. Players have 90 seconds to answer. 

Opposing team members can choose a “swinger” from their team. “Ace Winger,” ( a play on words for “a swinger”) has the opportunity to answer cards that players may not know to gain additional points. 

Lauren Barron noted the game will be sold and available for purchase in 700 Target stores across the United States. The Barrons hope is that by next year, the game will be sold in all 1,800 Targets in the U.S. 

“It was a big eye opener for us,” said Lauren. “It’s pretty great how supportive the industry is.”

The couple and their game was discovered by the store while attending the New York Toy Convention. A representative from Target approached their booth, started to play, and enjoyed it, explained Joe. Within the next couple of weeks, Joe said they had a prototype of the game and presented it to Target. It was a winner. 

“It’s going to be transformative for our business,” said Lauren. 

Joe noted this game-making journey has been an awesome experience, adding he didn’t expect it to take off as fast as it has. Joe left his corporate job just over a year ago to pursue making games full-time and hasn’t looked back since.

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