Written by Eric Layman
Category: News and Other Musings
Published: 06 July 2012
With a fairly mundane day job, considerable exercise every other day, driving, and the infinite undertaking of making my apartment not look like a Brazilian favela, I listen to a lotof podcasts every week. Obviously I think Flap Jaw Space: The DigitalChumps Podcast is the best in the biz*, but despite my narcissism I can't just listen to archived repeats of Chris, Steve, and myself taking about videos and/or inane bullshit. Thus, my weekly consumption of competing other podcasts is somewhat staggering. If anyone else needs to fill their brain with more useless videogame knowledge, here's my recommended rotation:
(GameFly Media / Shacknews)
Hosted by Garnett Lee (GameFly Media) with Jeff Cannata (Totally Rad Show). Frequent guests include Andrea Rene (Machinima), Xav de Matos (Joystiq), Jeff Mattas (GameFly Media), Christian Spicer, and James Stevenson (Insomniac). Recorded live, March 2010 – Present.
The spiritual successor to 1UP Yours, Weekend Confirmed is Garnett Lee's current project. His new cast of characters aren't as argumentative, threatening, or humorous as in years past, however they remain entertaining through Garnett's surprise contrarian opinions, coverage of independent and smaller Japanese games, and frequent appearances by developers. Weekend Confirmed also adheres to a pretty rigid format, making it feel better produced and more professional than its contemporaries.
Hosted by Anthony Gallegos (IGN PC) and Arthur Gies (Polygon) with Tyler Barber and Matt Chandronait (AREA 5). Recorded live, January 2009 - Present.
Rebel FM's genesis was forged in the dissolution of 1UP FM. Oddly, 1UP FM's cast was mostly purged from RebelFM before the show was ten episodes old. I planned on dropping it but never unsubscribed, either actually liking the show or suffering from some form of Stockholm Syndrome. I enjoy Anthony's self depreciating humor and weirdass stories, and while I disagree with much of what Arthur says I still value and enjoy his opinions. In my head this probably qualifies Rebel FM as a valid form of entertainment. Additionally Rebel FM is always where I hear about awesome PC games that I'll never play, cool iOS titles, and console b-sides I would have otherwise missed like Gun and Earth Defense Force 2017. Their letters section is unusually entertaining, and the clips of music Arthur inserts between breaks has sold me on a couple albums I otherwise would have never discovered. Rebel FM is good stuff, however it might have a higher barrier of entry until you decide whether or not you love or hate the cast.
Hosted by Jim Sterling with Jonathan Holmes and Hamza Aziz, all with Destructoid. Skyped with most of the current cast June 2011 - Present,
This is probably the weirdest, most fundamentally out of control shit I regularly consume in any form of media. I gave it a try about a year ago due to the cult of personality surrounding Destructoid's Jim Sterling. His reviews were noted for either intentionally trolling or being ridiculously contrarian, however months of putting up with this shit listening to Podtoid have convinced me Jim is guilty of little other than sharing his personal opinion, most times bluntly. He seems incredibly intelligent and capable of defending any of his positions in great detail at a moment's notice, dominating most arguments with fairly sound logic. This has caused me to recognize and respect his reviews and, hey, free hits for Destructoid. Also it's important to note that Podtoid's usual two hour running time typically contains only 15-20 minutes of talk about videogames. The rest is Jim asking Jonathan Holmes questions about pedophilia, threatening to sexually seduce and/or assault Jonathan Holmes, convincing Jonathon Holmes to take part in daytime fantasies like being 18th century grave robbers or high seas pirates, giving pitches for movies starring Willam Dafoe, or generally railing idiots throughout Mississippi or various videogame communities. Also Jonathan Holmes was on Road Rules in 1998.
Hosted by Ryan Davis with Jeff Gerstmann, Vinny Caravella, Brad Shoemaker, and Patrick Klepek, all with Giant Bomb. Recorded live June 2008 – Present.
This is my favorite podcast, videogame or otherwise. Most of the crew has been covering videogames at Gamespot or elsewhere since the late 90's, with Jeff Gerstmann in particular being one of the most well known and respected games writers in the field. Their idle banter also funny as hell, I don't know where Ryan Davis picked up such an exceptional sense of comedic timing, but his quips and mannerisms rival most professionals. Amongst the cast there's also a fairly well rounded interest in every genre, save maybe a slight negligence or general disinterest toward Japanese titles. With the addition of Patrick Klepek last year the Bombcast gained a fairly authoritative voice on news reporting, as well as an active interest and opinion on the indie games scene. I know it's cliché but there's never really a dull moment. If you'd like a sample please enjoy these timeless classics: Nintendo's 2009 Conference, Hot 97, Peter Molyneux's Balls.
(8-4 Ltd, hosted via Giant Bomb)
Hosted by Mark MacDonald with John Ricciardi, Hiroko Minamoto, Brendon Pritchard, and Justin Epperson, all with 8-4. # Episodes, October 2010 - Present. Recorded live.
8-4 is a Tokyo based localization office specializing in English to Japanese and Japanese to English translations and localizations for videogames. I have no idea why or how they have time for a podcast, but I’m thankful that they do because it's a great listen. With a tight focus on the Japanese gaming industry, obscure Japanese games, and some elements of daily Japanese culture mixed in, 8-4 Play is has an altogether different tone and atmosphere than their North American counterparts. Additionally both John (ex-EGM), Mark (ex-EGM, 1UP), and Justin (ex-NeoGAF mod, which I guess counts toward something) have previous experience in the games-writing industry, which further qualifies their opinions. Mark's intolerance for bullshit is particularly amusing, as is everyone's constant railing on Justin's absurd commentary.
Hosted by Chris Remo (Double Fine, ex-Gamasutra), Jake Rodkin (Telltale), Sean Vanaman(Telltale), and occasionally Steve Gaynor (ex-Irrational, ex-2K Marin, FIND) and Nick Breckon. Recorded live.
Sometimes I don't like listening to Idle Thumbs because it's the only podcast where I'm factually aware that every one I'm listening to is at least twice as smart as I am. Idle Thumbs lacks a proper format, instead opting for a constantly branching conversation covering (mostly) videogame related topics separated by alarming, non-sequitur breaks. In any case these guys all think and talk about games in a manner that I would have never considered on my own. Detailing the shop keeper's infinite repeating Groundhog Day like hell in Red Dead Redemption, or the sheer absurdity of a man throwing out money and using prostitutes as cover in Assassin's Creed II, were some of my favorites. Their constant appreciation of Far Cry 2 is something I'll never understand, however it's through them that I also learned about games like QWOP, Nidhogg, and some game about a BUTTON that I still don't quite get. Honestly Idle Thumbs might be the hardest to get into, but it has the best payout once you figure it out.
Hosted by Justin McElroy (ex-Joystiq), with Griffin McElroy (ex-Joystiq), Chris Plante (ex-UGO), and Russ Frushtick, all currently with Polygon. Skyped, February 2012 – Present.
The Besties was started around the exact same time Chris Stone developed Flap Jaw Space's Power Rankings. Both follow the format of introducing new games and deciding whether or not they're one of the best games of the week and/or year. This is obviously a coincidence, but it's worth pointing out! In any case the The Besties differs from Flap Jaw Space in that all four participants have one game on top, allowing the best game of each new week as a potential air to the throne. While I've enjoyed Justin and Chris on other podcasts there'ssomething missing from The Besties, and it feels like their concept has yet to reach its potential. Still, it's where I go to hear about a glut of obscure iOS or PC games, and the guys are pretty funny too.
WARNING! A Huge Podcast
Hosted by Eric "Shidoshi" Patterson (EGM), Nick "Nick Rox" Des Barres, and Casey Loe, all ex-GameFan/Play.Skyped, March 2010 – Present.
No print mag epitomized the spirit of 90's gaming like GameFan. With boundless enthusiasm and questionable art direction, GameFan was the quintessential nonessential magazine of its time. Play, a follow-up with much of the same staff, was also quite good. All three of these guys wrote for both publications. If 8-4 Play focuses on Japanese gaming, W!HAP is the forensic detective with an electron microscope upon the same subject. With Nick actually living in Osaka and Eric and Casey being unapologetic fans of Japanese games and culture, they explore topics of intense minutia with ridiculous depth. W!AHP's insane 3-4 hour running time is kept in check by the podcast's relative infrequency (we're lucky to get one every couple of months) but it's always a treat when a new installment rolls around.
Episodes 1-### hosted by Jeremy Parish with sporadic appearances by Chris Kohler(Wired), Scott Sharkey (1UP), Christian Nutt (Gamasutra), Frank Cifaldi (1UP), Ray Barnholt (1UP), and Shane Bettenhausen (1UP). New episodes hosted by Bob Mackey and whoever he can manage to round up around IGN/1UP. Recorded live.
Retronauts was, and kind of still is, a fantastic podcast featuring industry veterans waxing nostalgia over classic videogames. Most episodes focused around one, or a series of, classic games, with the occasional changeup in covering specific years of gaming. Unlike most podcasts that are only as good as the day they were produced, Retronauts' focus and format renders each installment virtually timeless. Sometime after episode 100 Jeremy Parish quit, but later returned with a call-in format, and since then Bob Mackey has taken the reigns and done a pretty decent job.
GFW Radio aka 97.5 The Brodeo
Hosted by Jeff Green with Shawn Elliott, Sean Molloy, Ryan Scott, Anthony Gallegos, and Robert Ashley, then all with 1UP. Recorded live, February 2006 - September 2008.
The Brodeo is also timeless in that you'll never get a better, more interesting group of people together to have a conversation about videogames. The idea of GFW Radio was to work in tandem with the Games for Windows Live magazine and discuss PC gaming, and while that certainly happened it typically veered into intense stories Shawn Elliot trolling different parts of the internet, frank commentary on games writing, and Anthony's failed pursuit of women. It's been dead for nearly four years, but came back March 30th, 2012 in cameo form as Episode # of The Comedy Button, one of Anthony's current podcasts.
Hosted by Garnett Lee, with Luke Smith, Shane Bettenhausen, Mark MacDonald, Andrew Pfister, and John Davison featuring Shawn Elliott, and David Ellis, then all with 1UP. Recorded live, January 2006 - January 2009.
1UP Yours was the progenitor of great videogame podcasts. You'll never find a better collection of knowledgeable people having argumentative, threatening, and humorous conversations surrounding the videogame industry. The E3 2006 special, focusing on the legendary $599 PS3 blunder, is an all time classic and virtually every episode from 2006-2007 is golden. Though something of a relic now, 1UP Yours is still listenable based on the strength of its personalities. As of 2012 Garnett is hosting Weekend Confirmed and with GameFly Media, Luke Smith is at Bungie, Shane Bettenhausen is with SCEA, Mark MacDonald is with 8-4, John Davison is with CBSi/GameSpot, David Ellis is with 343 Industries, and Shawn Elliot is with Irrational Games. Quite a collection of talent, indeed.
Out of the Game
Hosted by Shawn Elliot with N'Gai Croal (Hit Detection), Luke Smith (Bungie), Jeff Green (then-EA), and Robert Ashley (I come to Shanghai, I guess). Skyped from March 2009 – December 2010(?)
Out of the Game had a pretty inventive concept in that all four members used to write about videogames for either 1UP or Newsweek. The cast rarely discussed their day jobs, instead taking time to tell weird stories or what they were consuming in the realm of books, music, or videogames. Like GFW Live, which shares some of the same cast, Out of the Game was appealing due to the wide range of knowledge and perceived intelligence of the hosts. I read most every book Shawn talked about simply because I identified with his opinions and point of view in a wide number of areas. I don't even think these are available outside of a torrent, but if you find one that's active, you would do well to indulge.
Other podcasts I enjoy from time to time:
No More Whoppers - I was interested because I'm a fan of Ray Barnholt's magazine, Scroll, and I've only listened to a couple episodes, but Ray has great chemistry with his co-host Alex Fraioli. I don't think the description of "a conversation had while trying to go to bed during a sleepover" could be more accurate.
Brainy Gamer - Recommended to me by Chris Stone, host Michael Abbott's analytical perspective on games differs from the typical opinions in the enthusiast press. Great guests and interviews too.
Gamers with Jobs - I got into this apparently four or five years after they first started and I feel kind of lost, like I missed some important aspect of the chemistry forged between the group. It's not bad, but it's typically last on my list.
Games, Dammit! - 1UP’s flagship podcast of constantly fluctuating format. I listen because it's hosted by Jeremy Parish.
The Comedy Button - Most of this cast produced the latter episodes of The Gamespy Debriefings and The Comedy Button exists to facilitate that need after two of them left IGN. Not really about videogames but produced by people still in the games writing field.
A Life Well Wasted - Robert Ashley's labor of love, A Life Well Wasted strikes at the alternately awesome and terrifying heart of why people play videogames.
Active Time Babble – 1UP’s on again / off again podcast typically hosted by Kat Bailey. Great for RPG talk.
* I don't realistically believe this.