"This is your birthright — to be stoned and to game."
So says Stoned Gamer founder-CEO Zeus Tipado — who's perhaps the most enthused interviewee I've ever encountered. The 35-year-old Highland Park resident created the Stoned Gamer Championship Series — a roving tournament combining cannabis and esports/computer gaming — in 2016. Now he's promising a permanent Stoned Gamer Arena, which he describes as "the Disneyland of stoned gaming," scheduled to open in Los Angeles in April.
Tipado started Stoned Gamer as a website devoted to independent game development — "because that's just where all the art is" — in 2014, after selling his popular MMA site, Middle Easy. True to its name, Stoned Gamer entailed Tipado and his buddies getting high, playing "amazing games" and writing about them. But he'd long envisioned a real-world stoned video game tournament, so he organized what he calls "the planet's first" such event during the XO Gold Cup cannabis competition (which he co-produced) in San Bernardino in October 2015.
"We didn't know what we were doing. ... It was illegal, and we didn't care," he recalls.
Considering that millions of people have been enjoying faded gaming since Pong first flickered into arcades in the mid-'70s, it's remarkable that such a tournament didn't happen sooner. But when it did, its first iteration, as well as its second two months later, was, predictably, a huge hit.
"There was a giant hole in culture," explains Tipado, who holds a master's degree in media theory. "It's something that's kind of been, like, set aside or pushed away because, y'know, humanity is a little bit too embarrassed ... [to] accept that humans like to get high and we like to kind of escape."