Life, The Universe And Gaming: Podcasts Make Everything Better
The greatest thing about music is that it can move you in ways unlike other art forms, and it doesn’t necessarily even have to dictate your time. You can listen to music while in the car; you can listen to music while in the shower; while having a meal; while having sex (even with yourself); while studying or reading. Music is a universal language and has been for a very long time, with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night character Orsino coining the phrase, “If music be the food of love, play on.”
Thing is, I haven’t had a good listen to any music in weeks now. Truth be told, I’ll listen to the radio when in the car or at night before bed but that’s about it. And it’s not that music doesn’t affect me. No, music affects everyone — granted, you could argue that it’s actually the connections we make with music that affect us, which is why listening to that particular song from that particular band reminds you of a particular person, the way I couldn’t listen to Bliss from Muse for years without it upsetting me. No. Of course music affects me. It’s just that I’ve been spending so much of my time happily listening to podcasts instead.
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Now I will grant that podcasts are definitely not for everyone. After all, not everyone listens to the radio willingly. Nor is everyone necessarily an uber-fan of particular content, the way I am about gaming. And with some people you would be egregiously hard-pressed to persuade them to listen to anything other than their particular musical genre of choice. I’m thankfully one of those people whom you might say has eclectic tastes. This means I can appreciate music from all sorts of genres without feeling a need to get upset each and every time someone plays a song that isn’t in my preferred genre, as if it changes me as a person or something… seriously, why do people do that? The only music that really offends me is anything by Flo Rida, because he’s an opportunistic asshole who has no respect for anyone and I don’t like the sound of his voice. But with everything else, it’s all fair game. And podcasts, I will gladly listen to if the opportunity arises to try one out.
With all of that painfully incoherent and convoluted introductory stuff out of the way, have you ever played a really, really long game and found yourself fighting off heavy eyelids or the urge to get out of your comfortable seated position and go do something else? If you’re not a fan of games with a lot of grinding then it’s very likely that at some point you’ve played something that has struck such a chord with you. For me that was recently Red Dead Redemption, a game I finally got around to finishing after starting it way back in 2011. There have been other games; looking just to my left at my games stack, I see games the likes of Dragon’s Dogma, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings and even Grand Theft Auto V. Not necessarily boring games but rather games that go on for a while and, sometimes, struggle to keep your attention. If only because after the first five or so hours, your body aches for something to do instead of just sitting there.
Perhaps I’m just getting old.
But the thing about listening to podcasts is that when I put one on, games tend to just fly by. They become effortless. Mind you, I don’t suddenly not pay attention to story; I pause whenever there’s anything to listen to or watch, such as in-game dialogue or cutscenes. But when I’m out in the game world and just going about my business, and if the soundtrack isn’t something truly mesmerising the way Skyrim’s was, I simply put on a podcast and get playing.
In my many years gaming, I’ve found that this is by far the easiest way to get through longer games that require some grinding, completionist that I am. A game that particularly comes to mind is Assassin’s Creed III. I 100%’d that game and a lot of people have been mystified at how it was possible. Well, now you all know. Put on a podcast, play, when the podcast completes, put on another, and so on.
And it’s not just gaming either. It’s weird, I’m currently listening to a podcast and I just burst out laughing at a joke about proxy servers along the lines of, “You’re going to be so disappointed when you find out nobody’s looking for you.” If you didn’t laugh, that’s okay; it’s one of those you had to be there kinda things. But the thing is, I can listen to a podcast while typing out articles and it makes it more fun for me. I can listen to a podcast while doing arbitrary grunt-work type errands along the likes of perusing emails and doing admin work, for those of you who tend to work with spreadsheets a lot.
Perhaps you have an alternative way of dealing with things; perhaps you just like to stick with music. Either way, I felt as if this sort of column was long overdue, and rather than just talk about how awesome podcasts are, I thought I might recommend some of the ones I listen to on a regular basis (with some recommended episodes to try out). Because I’m just that nice of a guy, I guess?
Podtoid — Some might call it a shadow of what it once was, Podtoid is Destructoid’s premier gaming podcast which features the likes of Max Scoville and Conrad Zimmerman, talking about games, industry trends and random other things. I started listening to Podtoid after discovering that Max Scoville and Tara Long were in an internet thing together with the luminary Jim Sterling (not a fat joke) whom I adore. I then went all the way back as far as I possibly could, and listened to what is now hundreds of episodes. Currently at episode 280, Jim and Tara have since moved on and Max, having moved on previously, has come back to take the reigns. He tries his best to keep it going and I’m happy to support an old favourite. It would just be really nice if they got someone on who better complemented Max and Conrad. Hamza Aziz was great in his short stint on the show. (Lots of names!)
Recommended episodes: 164, 165, 182, 201.
The Dismal Jesters — Call it Podtoid 2.0, this is the podcast that was recently created as a result of Jim Sterling departing Destructoid and deciding he’d like to continue the Podtoid-styled podcasts with buddies Jonathan Holmes and Conrad Zimmerman, but just ditch the ‘gaming’ guise since there was barely any gaming talk anyway, and just make it a full-on comedy show. It’s full of offensive humour the likes of homo-erotic sexually suggestive come-ons to Jonathan Holmes (in pretty much every episode), conversations about murder, mutilation and pretty much every other sick and deranged topic of conversation possible in human existence… and I freaking love it. I have to say, it’s the one podcast I will listen to the moment it is downloaded, each and every time, and then listen to again a second time just because I want to enjoy it again. It’s just my kind of humour; so dark that it’s practically a racist reference in and of itself. What’s worth noting here is that Jim Sterling pays out of his own pocket for the hosting of this podcast — I would donate money to that man.
The Comedy Button — The Comedy Button is a very loosely gaming-associated podcast also mostly focused on humour, and is basically just a bunch of mid-thirties guys in the gaming industry, getting together and having a good time the way friends should. They just had the courtesy to record all of it and put it out for us to listen to. The Comedy Button is another of my favourites, which I listen to more than once just because I enjoy it that much. I’ve grown to adore each and every one of the show’s participants, which once again includes Max Scoville, along with a bunch of guys you’ve probably not heard of but would love if you listened to, the likes of Brian Altano, Scott Bromley, Anthony Gallegos (host of the show) and the infinitely effervescent Ryan Scott. This one comes highly recommended because it quite honestly is just hilarious, and listening to this while doing things would make any activity fun, I dare say even crying to yourself about what a lonely recluse you are, sitting in your room and listening to podcasts instead of going out and getting laid — this is a direct quote from the podcast. (Probably.)
Recommended episodes: 1-10, Best of 2012, 98.
The Trueachievements Podcast — This one’s still quite new and the guys running it are still finding their feet. The result is a heavily edited and always on-the-point podcast that deals with particular gaming topics, be it news or trends, but the interesting addition here is that they talk about achievements and challenges and involve the community, which I quite appreciate. Not enough for a second listen, and sometimes I’ll download an episode and only listen to it much later, but it’s still worth checking out anyway.
The Co-Optional Podcast — Polaris is the name of a YouTube collaborative of gaming personalities who do various videos. Every so often they join forces and do a video podcast. Now, this one has the added extra of video feeds from each of the podcasters, which means that you could potentially listen to — and watch — whomever is on a particular episode. The other bonus to this is that they can literally show AND tell, when doing episodes. The Co-Optional Podcast features my favourite female gaming personality, Dodger, as well as the Cynical Brit himself, TotalBiscuit. I tend to just listen to the episodes but having the option to also watch, while kinda creepy, is also kinda neat.
There are a few other podcasts that I listen to infrequently, which bear mention. These, I’ll just list real quick.
You know, I actually started out my podcasting addiction listening to Sarcastic Gamer podcasts way back in 2007. There were three versions on offer at the time, and more came later on until one day, the site basically imploded when all of the writers rebelled against one of the administrators and everyone left. The site’s creator then pulled all of the content and now what we have is the Big Red Barrel podcast having formed with some of those who left, with the creator and the guilty administrator (ironically a lawyer by day) restarting the Sarcastic Gamer podcast late in 2012. Both of these shows are unfortunately mere shadows of what once was. I can’t bring myself to listen to them any more, to be honest.
With the rest of those podcasts, the reason I don’t frequently listen to them is either because they’re too heavily edited, whether it’s never digressing from a point or keeping things PG with virtually no language as if internet radio is bound by some parental laws or something, or they’re just too positive, where you get the people on the show using the podcast to promote content rather than actually talk about things. I’m sorry but as much as I would love to sing the praises of every game, if you don’t call a shit game shit, then you’re doing it wrong.
In any case, with these podcasts I tend to just listen on occasion, typically because there’s some content coverage that interests me or they have a special guest on whom I’d like to listen to.
If you’d like further recommendations then be sure to also check out iTunes, which has top 10 lists for most downloaded, most popular, highest rated and so on, for various genres of podcast including comedy and gaming. Oh and course, there’s also this other podcast I listen to — and I genuinely do listen to it — which you should definitely check out:
It’s called the eGamer Podcast and it comes out every week; I work really hard to get that out each week and everyone really comes to the fore and has a good time when it comes to recording each episode. So you should definitely check it out. For us. Because you love us. You do love us, right?
So that’s that then. If I could go on for another two-thousand words (cue the gasps of indignation) about podcasts, I would. I really do love them to bits and it gives me great joy listening to the latest episodes of my favourite shows. I hope that you guys enjoy some of these, or at the very least are interested enough to give them a try. In that case, happy listening. Feel free to recommend your favourite podcasts in the comments, also, please. I’d love to try out some new stuff.