Reflecting on Extra Life 2019: An Interview with Joe Madigan

“The kids. It’s as simple as that. I have 3 of my own with one on the way. I want to know that if something were to happen to them, there would be amazing people out there supporting us in our time of need.”

-Joe Madigan, speaking on why he supports Extra Life.

I had the pleasure speaking with Joe Madigan on November 18th, 2019 about his experience running a charity event for Extra Life, an organization that helps Children’s Miracle Network.

The Charity Boardgamer: Joe, Thanks for talking with me today. Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into gaming.

Joe: I got into gaming as a young child with a pong system my dad brought home when I was about 6. After that, it was Atari, then NES through pretty much every system through my current PS4.

I didn’t really get into the board gaming hobby until about 9 years ago, with my introduction to my first hobby board game, Ghost Stories. I had never played anything like it before in my life; it was cooperative, and difficult, but a ton of fun. At that point, I instantly fell in love with the hobby, and I have my brothers to blame.

Since that point, I’ve been playing board games almost every week; trying new games and expanding my breadth of what I feel comfortable playing.

Now, I’m going to GenCon every year and have gotten my wife and daughters into the hobby as well. I love that I get to see their faces light up when figuring out strategies, especially ones that beat me.

Tables set and ready for the 24 hour event.

The Charity Boardgamer: That is a great feeling as a parent when the little ones have that sense of victory.What has been the go-to game with your family?

Joe: Can’t Stop is always a great game for the kidsWe also have started playing Stuffed Fables as a familyI think that is their favorite game right now. They really like the story aspect and the cooperative nature of the gameeveryone wins or loses as a teammy oldest is almost 10, so I’ve been trying to push her comfort zone with some more complex games

The Charity Boardgamer: Joe, tell me about Extra Life. What got you involved with the charity.

Joe: I first heard about Extra Life from my new neighbor, shortly after we moved into our current house. I was extremely interested by the premise of the charity. Gaming. As I mentioned early, I have been gaming my entire life and this charity felt like the perfect opportunity to do and share what I love to help children and families in need.

I have three beautiful girls and with another child on the way. I want to be able to help however I can. I want to be able to show my girls that you can do amazing things to help people in need, while still having fun.

Games, anyone?

The Charity Boardgamer: How many years have you been doing Extra Life?

Joe: This was my first year doing Extra Life. I had initially set a goal of fundraising $200 for the charity, but by leveraging some advice, I quickly re-set my goal for $500 and raised more than double that amount.

The Charity Boardgamer: Doubled the amount? That is great.How did you accomplish this? What were some of the things that made it a first year success?

Joe: It was great to see and more than I could have hoped for my first year raising money for Extra Life. I’m already looking at things I would change and do better to hopefully double that amount next year.

The Charity Boardgamer: What were some of the goals or incentives you had for those attending the event?What all did you have at the event?

Joe: There were two things that I had that I believe helped make the event successful. First, I was able to secure a grant from Thrivent Financial to provide food and drinks to everyone that attended. The participants donated what they wanted for eating and drinking and all that money went to Extra Life. The second thing I believe made the event successful, was the raffle. I was able to find some great deals on Mansions of Madness and The Game of Thrones Card Game and had a few more games donated by a couple game companies. Those two things alone created more than $600 in donations.

The one other thing that made it successful was I engaged our church to host the event. This gave us a great space to have multiple games going at the same time with no shortage of tables. I’ve already received feedback that they want to host the event again next year.

24 hours of fun while raising money for a good cause.

The Charity Boardgamer: Now, if I’m correct, Game Day for Extra Life is 24 hours. Did you do the full 24 hours?

Joe: I did do 24 hours. I started playing on Friday at midnight and played until after midnight on Saturday. There were 7 people that showed up right at midnight and we played 7th Continent and Just One. Everyone left around 3 am. I was by myself from then until 10 am playing Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Baseball Simulator on my SNES Classic.

The Charity Boardgamer: A Link to the Past is so good!

Joe: One of my all time favorites! That’s when people started to show up. We had about 50 or so different people throughout the day, maxing out around 25 in the afternoon. I thought the hardest part of staying awake was going to be that 4-5 am time period, but it was right around 9 am. Right before people started showing up. I think the anticipation made that part the worst.

The Charity Boardgamer: So did you do anything crazy for hitting your goal?

Joe: Not this year. We have baby #4 due any day now, and my wife didn’t want me to do anything crazy. We will be having family pictures done in a few weeks and wanted to ensure that I would look normal for the picturesAt least as normal as I can look.

Next year, all bets are off. Dyed hair, shaved beard, who knows?

The Charity Boardgamer: So tell me what was one thing that made this worth doing. Why should others support Extra Life?

Joe: The kids. It’s as simple as that. I have 3 of my own with one on the way. I want to know that if something were to happen to them, there would be amazing people out there supporting us in our time of need.

The Charity Boardgamer: Joe, Thanks again for telling us about your experience with Extra Life, and congratulations on the new baby on the way!

Joe: Thanks, Chris. I appreciate everything you do for the hobby and for charity.

To find out more about Extra Life, go to Extra Life’s Website. If you want to raise money for Extra Life, please do so. It is a great cause.

Joe and the Madigan family with their newest addition.

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