Great Gaming Podcasts
Entertainment or Education for Gamers?
Then came the widespread appeal of the internet and suddenly hundreds of smaller writers, with stronger opinions and no fear of losing subscription fees, could have their say in their own Blogs (much like I am doing here). Discussion boards sprung up around them and gamers suddenly had a way to find out all sorts of new ideas and debate them endlessly. No longer was it only the words of the big gaming companies that most people would be able to read.
As technology advanced these blogs could start being transformed into multimedia feats with polls, interactive animations, and even entire audio programs one could subscribe to (or Podcasts). Just a with the blogs (or even TV shows or any forms of media) these Podcasts could come in any format, from roundtable discussions on no set topic to highly organized audio magazines covering one specific area of gaming.
As Podcasting in general became more well known (thanks iTunes) the cream of the crop of gaming Podcasts started to float to the surface. What I want to talk about here are some of my favorites in the filed (as of this moment) and what they tend to cover. Should you listen to these shows? Depends on what you want out of your gaming and gaming related entertainment, so the decision has to be yours.
Dragon's Landing Inn: This was the first gaming podcast I ever listened to (and possibly even the first RPG specific podcast ever made) and it is still one of the most well known and respected gaming podcasts out there, even though they have moved to a more infrequent release schedule. If I had to classify it I would say it's a general gaming magazine style podcast with a slight fantasy slant to it (although they do cover all genre).
The two hosts are old friends who have friendly banter between them and really seem to enjoy doing the show, which really comes across. They tend to choose overall subjects to cover each show and also have several smaller segments they rotate through that touch on several different areas of interest, with general news and announcements about the gaming industry up front. It is well produced and edited into what feels like a near professional level magazine show about how to game, both as a player and a GM.
They have also produced a game of their own through interaction on their forums (codenamed CHUPA and now called CORE), which has already garnered a fairly good following. The forums are not as active as they once were, but activity on the CORE system has continued to grow and progress.
Rating: I would highly suggest all gamers at least check out this show (especially the series they did on environments and world building).
Fear The Boot: I actually remember when these guys started out, as I was trying to listen to every new gaming podcast out there to expand my playlist. Most of those others have long since faded or at least have been removed from my iTunes, but Fear the Boot stands atop the heap as strong as ever. It grew rather quickly in popularity and now stands as one of the most listened to and active of all the gaming podcasts. With a larger number of hosts than most shows it acts as a roundtable discussion show but with a specific agenda of topics each show (usually a smaller "fluff" topic and then the main topic).
Although some of the hosts have come and gone, they always maintain a good mix of voices and opinions throughout the series. This makes for very interesting shows that never seem to state a clear "this is how it is" feel to them, allowing the listener to feel more a part of the show than just being instructed by it. Most of the hosts have strong opinions about certain things, but with enough voices around none of them overshadow the others. They also do a series of bonus episodes that are just fun to listen to even though they often have nothing to do with gaming.
Out of all the podcasts out there, this one seems to have the most active community that sprung up around it. The forums are highly active and the hosts (both current and previous), as well as their wives and friends, spend a good amount of time joining in on the discussions. Even if you don't listen to the podcast this is a great gaming community to belong to.
Rating: Right now I think this is the best general gaming podcast out there and everyone should be listening.
Midnight's Lair: Although this show was born out of a superhero game between a group of friends, it has grown be a more generic magazine style show with a slightly more humorous slant. The two main hosts have a central discussion that makes up the meat of the show, but they also have a number of truly great guest segments that bring completely new ideas to the show (using old time serials as gaming inspiration, for example). The chemistry between them is usually very strong, although the "cruel humor" segment often actually hurts.
This show also has a rather nice internet community that sprung up around it, although many of the members are based around the French Canadian roots of the hosts. This has also lead to them having an entire section of their forums dedicated to French speaking gamers. They have several very long winded posters in their forums that really add a lot of great information for gamers of all kinds.
Rating: With some truly great segments and a fun overall feel, I can see many gamers enjoying this show.
Ogre Cave Audio Report: This show is an industry show about the state of the gaming industry as a whole. It is hosted by the owners of a gaming store and others who are involved in more of the back of the gaming world. As such they discuss, in organized roundtable style, what is going on in gaming, what new things are coming to market, what's selling, and more. They are not a strictly an RPG based show, as they cover board games, card games, and other aspects of the tabletop gaming world.
Rating: For those interested in the business side of things this can be great, but the average gamer might not get a lot out of it.
All Games Considered: This wonderful show is hosted by a small group of three people who have great chemistry together. Unlike most of the shows on this list, however, they tend to focus on (as the name suggests) all kinds of games and not just RPGs. Many of the episodes include rather in depth reviews and descriptions of a single game (complete with snarky comments by one of the other hosts) and talk about things being released soon that interest them.
Rating: A great show people wanting to hear about a large variety of games they might be interested in checking out.
Gamer: The Podcasting: Another of the old core gaming podcasts, this one centers mostly around the world of LARP (Live-Action Role-Play). Although it's not my thing, I still listen to every episode of this show because the "Mad Three" have amazing chemistry and are a blast to listen to. At the same time they manage to convey a lot of rather useful information, even for non-LARPers, through their almost freeform feeling style of magazine show. They have recently been on an extended break but it sounds like they are back and ready for more now.
Rating: Even if you are not a fan of LARP, this show is more than worth listening to for the average gamer.
Sons of Kryos: The hosts of this show are very involved in the world of Indy Games (independent games), especially the FORGE community, and the show is all about their love of them. The show is a mix between a Magazine show and a two-person discussion show on the subject. Sometimes their strong opinions can lead to feelings of alienation (or even insult) from the more mainstream gamers not interested in the highly experimental style of many Indy Games, but most of the times they are able to keep things on the show out of this danger area (although the same can not be said for their forums).
Rating: For those interested in the Indy Game world, this show could be exactly what they are looking for, but mainstream gamers could be lost.
House of the Harping Monkey: Although not an actual show itself, this site is the home of several semi-related gaming and geek podcasts, mostly hosted by Mic Bradley (owner of the Harpy Monkey). He is a host with a very strong personality, often overshadowing his co-hosts, but amusing to listen to. The main shows of interest are The Round Table (exactly what it sounds like, a group discussion show), The Rolemonkeys (live recordings of gaming sessions), and Misfit Brew (a general geek chat magazine show).
Rating: It is likely you will find something you will like here, although it may not come out as often as you'd hope.
Accidental Survivors: If modern gaming is your thing, this is the more specific podcast for you. It covers themes and ideas that can be used in all sorts of modern games and campaigns, but that is also its limitation. As someone who doesn't play modern games, I find the usefulness of this show to be limited, although some of the themes and ideas are more universal on occasion.
Rating: I would only suggest this show if you are interested in modern gaming or really like podcasts on gaming a lot.
Roll 2D6: This is a great podcast all about the non-RPG side of the hobby. Board games, card games, party games, and more are all reviewed and covered in this well produced podcast. It does cover RPGs on occasion, but usually in a broader theme (like when they did a show on all Star Trek related games over the years).
Rating: If you are interested in more than just RPGs, this show could be for you.
Shakespeare and Dragons: This is a one-man show with little editing or fancy production, just his rather intelligent discourse on literature, culture, and deeper aspects of life and how they can be used in RPGs. The downside is that he is very dry and speaks in a relatively slow and almost monotonous fashion. What he has to say is extremely interesting (which is why I keep subscribed) but the way he says it can nearly put you to sleep.
Rating: I would love this show if it was able to keep your attention more readily. As it stands you have to work just to keep listening.
Although there are more of them, this is a great example of the more well known and diverse podcasts related to tabletop gaming out there. Every one of these are in my podcatcher (which also happens to be iTunes) and listened to each time a new episode is released. I would not suggest you do the same unless you also have a job that allows you to listen to your iPod while you work. Just choose the ones that sounds like your thing and give them a shot.
If you are most interested in discussion online as well as a good show to listen to, there are a few of these shows that have thriving web communities around them (some mentioned above). Fear The Boot and the House of the Harping Monkey have very large and active communities that cover far more than just gaming. Midnight's Lair, Sons of Kryos, and Gamer: The Podcasting also have relatively active (although smaller) communities as well, but they are more focused on the gaming theme.
As I learn of more down the road I am sure I will listen to them and may do a follow-up to this at some point. As it stands, this is the best list of what I know and enjoy. In the meantime, check out these shows and enjoy. If you have any other ideas or comments feel free to leave a note below.
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