November 15, 2018

Centare Extra Life 2018

By Steve Schmidt

Play Games. Heal Kids.

For several years, now, Centare has assembled a team of volunteers to spend an entire 24 hours awake and playing games to raise money for The Children’s Miracle Network. This event is called Extra-Life. This past November 2-3, was the most recent gaming all-nighter event.

Some of our couch gamers

Scott Sauer is the team’s captain and undeniable Centare spokesman for the event. He had this to say when asked how he pulls the Centare team together year after year.

Scott Sauer: Extra Life has become a bit of at old hat around the office here. Years ago, when we first started hosting the event, it took a lot of communication to make people aware of what it was and get them to buy into it whereas now, a lot of that work is done for me. I mention it often so that it’s front of mind, but the vast of the inspiration comes from word of mouth. Participants come up with interesting ways that they can raise money and put together unique and entertaining mini-events for the day. When you put together a fun event that is also a great cause, it becomes something that people naturally want to be a part of. Centare’s involvement is pretty minimal when it comes to effort and cost, but the impact is enormous. Coupling a comfortable space that can accommodate so many different types of gaming activities and the pure excitement of the people that participate, it becomes a magical experience.

The 2018 event witnessed over 20 participants over the course of the event with a wide variety of Extra-Life experience - from first-timers to repeat performers.

The PC gamer setup

When asked how everyone spent their 25-hour duration, here’s what a few Centarians had to say:

Shannon Burns: I played an obnoxious amount of Heroes of the Storm. Like that was all I played... I have a problem. But it was super fun because I always was able to find someone to play with.

Tom Doyle: Besides participating in a Magic: The Gathering Unstable Draft Tournament, I ran a Europa Universalis IV playthrough with Poland, reaching year 1679 at the 25 hr buzzer. The game 'clock' runs from 1444 to 1821.

Ogden Greene: Played social games! Several tournaments made time go by (too) quickly, and lots of multiplayer games kept it very fun.

So, you might be wondering if everyone lasted the full 25-hours.

Kelly O’Callaghan: No - I do not have the mental fortitude for all-nighters. :) I stayed 'til about 10:30 this year. Last year I slept a few hours on a giant bean bag in a conference room.

Michael Salmon: Yes, but I dozed a little in between turns of Gloomhaven around 5-8am. Maintaining activity, food and caffeine.

Tom Duex: I did make it the full 25 hours. It's never easy, but I find that one of the best ways to make it the entire time is to make sure you always have something to do. Being distracted from how tired you might be feeling helps a lot. Coffee can help when times get desperate, and making sure to eat and drink plenty throughout the day can help to keep the energy up.

Ok, so what was is like spending your entire weekend in the Centare Brookfield office?

Michael Salmon: It was fine, I’ve done it before. I ran through the empty halls a bit, which is a freedom only available at the strange times one finds themselves during 25+ hours.

Tom Doyle: It felt comfortable to inhabit, being frank. At the very least, I knew my way around.

Tom Deux: I didn't mind it at all. It has the space and equipment to make an event like this possible and comfortable, as well as supporting the entire variety of events that occur during Extra Life. Plus I already enjoy being in the Centare office in general, so I had great time there. Doing the event in person with others also makes the event a lot more fun and engaging, so having a space to encourage that is awesome.

Pure intensity

So, not only was the event fun, but the Centare team raised over $11,000 during the event. Centare is very proud of the dedication the team showed. The bar has been raised quite high for the 2019 Extra-Life team.

Here are a few final thoughts on how the event went.

Ogden Greene: It was a blast. I ended up doing lots of goofy multiplayer activities, so I laughed so hard I was losing my voice by the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it and plan on coming next year as well!

Kelly O’Callaghan: I love any excuse that schedules in board gaming time on my calendar. Even more, it's awesome to see how this event has grown - going from something Scott would do with a smaller group with friends to something we've now gotten a big chunk of the company (+ outside friends) to participate in. We've even got some people streaming their playtime during Extra Life on Twitch, the donations from which helped us raise a record-breaking amount for Centare this year!


Steve Schmidt - User Experience Designer

About Steve Schmidt

Steve is a Manager and leads the User Experience team at Centare. He has been teaching usability and user experience ideas to the entire staff at Centare for over 10 years.