Our latest featured ganjapreneur has made it his mission to normalize cannabis and overcome stereotypes with entertainment products geared toward the consumer. Mike Siffin, founder of Hash Brothers Entertainment, has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a cannabis-themed board game called “Pipes and Lighters.”
Designed on a unique “lazy Susan” board surface, the game is based on elements of chance, strategy, and creative input from the players. In this interview, Mike discusses how he came up with the concept, how the game works, and what his motivations were for leaving his well-established career in the tech industry to pursue opportunities related to legal cannabis.
Read the full interview below:
Ganjapreneur: So, where did the idea for a cannabis-themed board game come from?
Mike Siffin: The idea came to me while I was with my wife visiting our good friends in Arizona. While sitting poolside on their patio, we had just finished smoking some Cannabis and I happened to set the pipe and lighter down directly on the Lazy Susan, and a thought occurred to me as an epiphany. Specifically, kids have virtually unlimited games to choose from, e.g., Monopoly, Life, Mouse Trap, Chutes & Ladders, but what about the adults who enjoy Cannabis and games? Thus, my epiphany and “Pipes & Lighters” was born. Part of the epiphany was the Lazy Susan component, so I hired the design team from Quandary Group and when they designed our board game, they added a unique, patent-pending feature: the ability to convert our Lazy Susan surface into a “Munchies Board” by flipping it over! Pipes & Lighters isn’t just a board game, it’s a novel entertainment experience that incorporates Cannabis Trivia, Culture and all things relating to Cannabis for people to enjoy.
What is the general concept or objective of the game? How does a player win?
The easiest way to explain would be to watch the Kickstarter video. That said, here is a brief overview of the rules. Pipes & Lighters is an interactive adult board game which entails three specific trivia question components that relate to the historical and cultural applications of Cannabis. Specifically:
– “Who Am I?”
– “What Am I?”
– “Where Am I?”
There is a “Categories” component where the reader of the Category will call out a Category, e.g. “What’s in a Burrito?” Players will then have to order quickly in sequence everything included in a Burrito, e.g. Chicken, Cheese, Salsa, Guac, Sour Cream, however if one stumbles, repeats an answer or answers with an irrelevant answer, they are eliminated in that round of category.
“Wild Cards” will provide “challenges” that may help or hinder a player from moving forward toward the center of our game board.
“Action Items” are assigned when a player correctly answers a Category question and then “spins” the lazy Susan game board surface and where the purple arrow lands, you are assigned an action item. Action Items include “Vices” as well as the ability to “Make a Rule.” There are 3 “Vices” (Vice, Vice Bud, Social Vice) and 1 “Make a Rule” landing spots. Wherever the player who spins the board lands (indicated by the large purple arrow on the Action Item section), that player or the group as a whole will need to perform a “Vice,” e.g. take a “hit” or a “drink” or a “bite” of munchie food.
The “Make a Rule” landing spot will allow the player who lands there to make a rule, e.g. all players during the next round of questioning must answer the questions in a “British” accent. If a player fails to do so, even if they get the answer correct, they are out for that round! This adds a creative element for the players and ups the stakes. The first player to successfully make it around all 42.0 squares on the game board wins! Once the game is over, our game is engineered with a compartment centerpiece that will store the players’ pipes and lighters and then they can share and celebrate with friends. Again, post-celebrating they can flip over the game board, convert it to the “Munchies Board,” and share their favorite culinary delights with their fellow players.
How does Pipes & Lighters fit into the recent resurgence of board games as a cultural niche? Will it appeal to people who enjoy complex strategy games, or is it more geared toward socializing?
Really both. It is as mentioned a very interactive, fast paced game where people will indeed have to use their brains to taste the strain! There are a multitude of trivia questions that are farcical, educational, historical and entertaining. Plus, as mentioned with the “Categories” section, people are engaged and with the focus groups we’ve tested the game, their responses have been both positive and encouraging. Another nice thing about this game is that although intended for Cannabis users,’ it doesn’t exclude anyone from playing or having fun. For example, if someone doesn’t smoke, they can substitute a hit with a drink or food, say they’ve been on a diet, they’d take a bite of their favorite “munchie” instead. To specifically address your question, I see Pipes & Lighters as an experience, an event if you will that can be played across multiple adult generations from the 21 year old grandson to his 88 year old grandma, there’s definitely something for everyone to enjoy! Also, please note that Hash-Brothers has a vision to not simply provide board game products, but also electronic game versions (mobile/video) and web services. Or vision is to be “The Leader in Cannabis Entertainment!”
We plan to develop mobile, video and other electronic versions of “Pipes & Lighters,” as well as any future games we develop. We plan to expand the “brand” of Hash-Brothers Entertainment into several avenues of entertainment, again as it relates to cannabis history and culture.
What was your career before founding Hash Brothers?
Prior to founding Hash-Brothers, I had a 25-year career in software sales in Silicon Valley. It was a good, solid career but I can’t say I honestly loved selling software. Plus, being in sales in the Valley is a grind. I wasn’t an executive, I was a guy carrying a bag for 25 years and that bag and its associated quota didn’t get lighter year after year, it got extremely heavy. In fact, I believe 25 years selling in Silicon Valley equates to roughly 1,170 years in “Dog Years!” Prior to joining the workforce, I graduated with a B.A. in Behavioral Science from San Jose’ State University.
When did you first start to look at the cannabis industry as a career opportunity?
Once legalization occurred here in Colorado. That, coupled with my personal reasons – I’ve lost 3 close family members to Cancer (Dad – Colon, Brother – A.L.L. Leukemia and a late Wife – A.L.L. Leukemia). So, I made a promise to myself and Family that if I was in a position to lead the charge of legalization, legitimization and most importantly, the medical application of Cannabis, I would hold nothing back.
I feel that Cannabis has been unfairly maligned and vilified. Cannabis is a simple herb, grown naturally on our planet and if allowed, can provide both recreational as well as medicinal benefits. I felt that I might be a good candidate to help lead the charge and advocate for legalization and legitimization. So, if I am able to successfully launch Hash-Brothers, LCC a minimum of 10% of the proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia Research Foundation.
When does the Kickstarter for Pipes & Lighters end, and what are some of the rewards?
Thanks for asking. Our Kickstarter began April 18th and runs until May 23rd. Examples of the rewards are our entry level “Pipes & Lighters” game (all functions minus the engineered lazy susan base – the game will still spin, just doesn’t include the compartment centerpiece base), as well as our exclusive, patent-pending version of “Pipes & Lighters” that contains as mentioned earlier the uniquely engineered board game surface and centerpiece. There are also tee-shirts, bumper stickers, social shout-outs, et al. So, if you want to obtain our game, Kickstarter is where to find it.
A few. When I have encountered them I feel their backgrounds’ are often similar to mine in the sense that they were at a point in their lives where they had exhausted their initial careers, but still wanted to be actively involved in the business community and thus, a new industry emerged from out of the shadows. At that point, people like myself were offered an opportunity to participate in an industry which has so much potential, yet is still very much in its infancy. I can’t speak for others, but in my case – and I believe others would most likely concur – I’d like to see the legitimization of Cannabis occur and with it the removal of the negative stigma often associated with it.
To believe in what your doing, and to have a solid grasp on why you built your company to begin with. In my case, the reasons were very personal, but – whatever your motivation – do not be deterred from your goal of bringing your company to market. You will encounter good days and bad, but do not allow this to prevent you from bringing your dream to fruition.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Mike, and best of luck with the Kickstarter campaign! We are looking forward to seeing more entertainment products from Hash Brothers in the future.
The Pipes & Lighters Kickstarter campaign is already over half-way funded: click here to visit the campaign and reserve your copy today. To learn more about Hash Brothers Entertainment, you can visit their website. Questions? Comments? Post them below!