Reflecting on Extra Life with Brian Moats

In 2011, I lost my mother, and as I approached the first anniversary of her passing, I discovered Extra Life. Extra Life is a charity that raises funds for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals around the nation. I joined Extra Life as a way of remembering my mother and doing some good in her name.

-Brian Moats, speaking of why he joined Extra Life

I have enjoyed getting to know Brian and the work he is doing for Extra Life. We recently corresponded on Extra Life via Email. Enjoy!

TheCharityBoardgamer: Can you tell us about yourself and how you got into the gaming hobby?

Brian: I have been involved in gaming since about 1990 when I first played a Nintendo Entertainment System. I was always drawn to their stories, visuals, and the different mechanics they used. I was particularly drawn to platformers and roleplay games. This passion led me to pursue degrees in computer science, mathematics, and business with the hope of one day starting my own game development company. Currently, I am a software engineer working on a NASA contract.

In 2011, I lost my mother, and as I approached the first anniversary of her passing, I discovered Extra Life. Extra Life is a charity that raises funds for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals around the nation. I joined Extra Life as a way of remembering my mother and doing some good in her name. I created my team WVGamers along with a number of close friends who knew her. Every year we get together, play games, and do good for our community.

Around 2016, I discovered modern board games at a new friendly local game shop (FLGS) opened nearby; I had played a few such as Dungeon and Arkham Horror prior to this. This FLGS has allowed me to meet so many wonderful people who have taught me about so many wonderful games and have joined me on this Extra Life journey to help children and their families in need.

Someone has been playing too much Mega Man 2.

TheCharityBoardgamer: What has been a go-to game you have been playing a lot lately?

Brian: Honestly, I play 10-15 different games a month, but if I were to pick a couple games that are constant go-to games, I would say Ticket to Ride, Mystic Vale, and Splendor.

TheCharityBoardgamer: Any designer that you have great respect for or a publisher that you have enjoyed?

Brian: That is a tough question; I have great respect for all of those designers who have breathed life into these games we all love. The ideas for these games started as spark in their imagination, and they had the burning passion to take a risk and give these games form.

If I had to pick a couple publishers I constantly follow, that would probably be AEG, Smirk and Laughter/Dagger, and Stronghold Games. That said, there are so many smaller publishers make amazing games that may be easy to overlook. Swordcrafters by Adam’s Apple Games is one game I found so unique and led me to really enjoying their other titles. Kobold’s Ate My Babies introduced me to 9th Level Games and all of the other amazing games they have released and continue to release. Ambyria by Paw Warrior Games, Aetherium/Front Lines No Komrades by Anvil 8 Games, Fire in the Library by Weird Giraffe Games…ok…As I said, it is really hard to actually settle on a few because there are so many amazing gems hidden away in the ocean of games.

TheCharityBoardgamer: Tell me about Extra Life.

Brian: Extra Life, as I mentioned earlier, is a charity that raises funds for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. It does so in a marathon style where gamers will spend typically 24 hours straight gaming for the cause while asking for donation support from family and friends. There is no “right” way to handle these. Some Extra Lifers do 24 hour twitch streams, where people will tune in to see what games they are playing; others host centralized events to the public, where they have a schedule of games people can come and play as they wish during the 24 hour period. 24 hours may seem like too much to some; you are free to split the event across weekends or even event months. It is all about the spirit of the cause.

When you sign up, you have the opportunity to select which hospital you will be supporting, which means your donations stay local and support families you may know.

Our Extra Life team, WVGamers, host various events throughout the year to keep Extra Life in the mind of those in the community with the hopes that more people will get involved. We offer free gaming opportunities, raffles, bake sales, and other creative fundraising tactics.

TheCharityBoardgamer: Why is Extra Life important to you?

Brian: I wish I had a deep touching story of how the Children’s Hospital helped me personal or someone I knew. In all honesty, it started as a positive distraction to help with a hard time in my life after losing my mother and as a way to send positive karma into the universe. Over the years as I got to know the hospital representatives and others passionate about the charity, I really grew attached to it and wanted to do more each year. Each year, over 3 million children find themselves needing the aid of children’s hospital and many spend a lot of time there. I love the idea that the donations I raise goes to helping a local child. The donations are used to help make the child’s time spent at the hospital enjoyable through movie/game stations, cameras for families to check in on their children in the NICU after they have to return to work, and even to educate the children and families about whatever illness the child may be battling.

TheCharityBoardgamer: What is a way that we can help with the Extra Life?

Brian: There are a lot of ways individuals can help. Those with a gaming passion can sign up and seek donations from their community; there is always a need for more people with fresh ideas to get involved.

Those who don’t wish to sign up themselves, tell your friends and family about Extra Life; the more people who know about this wonderful charity, the more opportunities we have to help our community.

Finally, donate. Every dollar helps. You can do one-time payments or even setup re-occurring payments of whatever value; I hear a lot of people like to setup re-occurring donations for a few dollars a month because that adds up over the year and easily money they won’t even notice is gone.

Brian and Amanda rocking the game demos.

TheCharityBoardgamer: Where can we go to find more information about Extra Life?

Brian: The best place to learn more about Extra Life is their website: https://www.extra-life.org/. You can get information about the charity, how to join, and search for people you may know who are supporting the cause.

TheCharityBoardgamer: What were some things from 2019 that you enjoyed? What did you learn?

Brian: Our team is amazing. When I started, I had 1 person signed up for WVGamers and 10 fellow gamers. In 2019, I had over 30 people on the WVGamers team and most of them contributed in some way. Our core planning team consisted of about 6-9 people. They had wonderful ideas on how to get more people signed up across the state, new fundraising ideas (geek penny wars, t-shirt sales, local geek celebrities), and were typically self-driven. It was great knowing there was a supportive team that was always there helping out and took the pressure off my girlfriend and my shoulders.

I think there is a balance that we are trying to find between how many events we can successfully host. We hosted three major events, a couple dozen smaller events, and were all over the state throughout the year for various conventions. While it was great, it also put a strain on a few members of the team; so, I need to be more sensitive to these situations in future years.

Brian has gone mad, and I think he likes it…

TheCharityBoardgamer: What do you hope to accomplish this year?

Brian: On a team level, I want to surpass $9,000 raised again (partly because I want to use the OVER 9,000 meme from Dragonball Z), and I would love to draw in 3-5 more active members of the team to help attend a few of the events around the state that are just a little out of most of our teams’ range. I want to keep driving the fact that we are a team…no, a family, and everyone is equally important. I want to spend a little more time, as a captain, focusing on individual’s strengths and interests to help them find new ways to better themselves and push forward with their own ideas for the betterment of our teams ideals and the amazing cause we support.

If you would like to donate towards Brian and his campaign for Extra Life, click here.

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