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Behind the Controller – Jim Callahan

Introduction to Jim:

My name is Jim – aka Nylos – I’m a full-time firefighter/paramedic in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago and have been an avid gamer and proud nerd my entire life.

How many years in Extra Life:

This is my fourth year participating in Extra Life, but the second that I’ve been able to really participate and meet my goals without things getting in the way.

How much raised (lifetime):

My total amount raised is $1,920.  I’m proud to say I’ve met my donation goals the past two years and plan to keep that pace!

What is your favorite game, or type of game?

RPGs are by far my favorite genre.  I love being able to immerse myself in a world and a story, and the ability to make choices that change the course of that story is something unmatched in a lot of other media.  It’s hard to pick just one favorite game:  I’ve played World of Warcraft for nearly its entire existence (over 18 years at this point) and it’s always held a very special place in my heart (those that play WoW know you never really quit for good).  I finished Final Fantasy XIV’s main story quest shortly after the release of Endwalker and to say I wasn’t emotionally wrecked during the entirety of that expansion would be a lie.  When all is said and done, while WoW and FFXIV are incredible my GOAT has to be the Mass Effect trilogy.  The characters, the world building, and the story are all second to none.  The Happy Ending and Citadel Epilogue mods made ME3’s finale much better, and even without those it’s hard to deny the huge impact Mass Effect had not only on me but the gaming community.

How did you find out about Extra Life, and why did you decide to get involved?

I first heard about Extra Life through my cousin Dan Martinez (who just passed the $10,000 lifetime fundraising milestone! Huge shoutout!) and after talking with him about what Extra Life was and digging into the organization myself a bit I was completely sold on its mission.  I’ve always had a huge drive to help people, and being able to channel my hobby and favorite past-time into doing good for kids that really need it was an absolute no-brainer for me.  I kind of view it as a roundabout way of playing a support class IRL.

What does Game Day look like for you?

I was on shift the day before this year, so my gameday prep started a few days prior getting everything ready to go.  I double checked my stream set-up, that my meals were organized, I made a rough outline of the day’s gaming, and made sure that I had plenty of water and a couple Monsters in the fridge ready to go.  Getting off shift in the morning I started playing right after feeding the cats (Nyx, Skipper, and Garbage) and kept going well into the late hours of the morning.  The highlight of the day was definitely the D&D one-shot I ran for my girlfriend, Emily, and friends Jeremy, Mackenzie, Ben, and Carson:  they had four hours to storm Castle Ravenloft and kill the devil Strahd himself and succeeded by the skin of their teeth.  The runner-up definitely goes to freaking out at very jumpscare playing Alien: Isolation for the first time.

My preorder’s set and my Pottermore account is linked:  my most anticipated game of 2023 is definitely Hogwarts Legacy.  The newest WoW expansion, Dragonflight, just recently dropped and (so far) is looking and feeling very promising, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that evolves with further patches.  I’ve also got a huge backlog of games to get through, including Fallen Order, God of War and GoW Ragnarok, Horizon, and The Last of Us Part II.

As far as Extra Life goes, I was just made aware of the Chicago Area Guild this past game day, and after seeing what other events are hosted throughout the year I can’t wait to get out and participate in everything I can!  This year I set and reached a lofty fundraising goal of $1000 and plan on keeping that for 2023; I’m already starting to brainstorm another one-shot and can’t wait to see how the next game day unfolds.  

What are you looking forward to in the new year (from a gaming, Extra Life, fundraising perspective)?

One of Extra Life’s mottos is “The Power of Play,” which has always struck a chord with me.  My entire life I’ve seen how gaming can bring people together not only through camaraderie during tabletop games or raid nights, but through shared experiences.  Just this past summer I got into a lengthy conversation with a total stranger about the Mass Effect franchise waiting in a line at Cedar Point, and seeing the FFXIV community pay tribute to composer Masayoshi Soken was awe-inspiring.  Being able to harness that power and bring the gaming community together to really make a difference in kids’ lives is an incredible opportunity, and I’ve already gotten hooks into some more friends of mine to bring them in to make my next game day even bigger.