Too often in the video game industry negativity is rampant. Whether it’s about exclusivity, console wars, business practices or attacking other players; having video games as a major interest can be exhausting. So I’m taking up the challenge to bring something more positive to the video game space. I wanted to specifically bring attention to things that I appreciate. It can be as pinpointed as an individual responsible for a favorite game or as broad as a genre one adores.
Mine is more of the latter. I want to focus on something that really dragged me into culture of games in a way I hadn’t been prior. I want to discuss my love of video game podcasts.
I believe it was 2007 or 2008 when I first waded into the podcasting pool. I had come to the point where listening to the same music over and over again at my job had lost its luster and needed something different. I had seen the podcast section on my iPod for a while and decided to finally check it out. It was there I discovered the Joystiq Xbox 360 Fancast and fell in love with it. The crew of Richard Mitchell, Alexander Sliwinski and Xav de Matos (and later David Hinkle) did a wonderful job together and to this day I think of them any time I hear the word “asparagus” due to their constant recording issues.
It was roughly around this time I added the Joystiq Podcast to my listening queue as well, mainly for the humor that Justin McElroy brought to it and the puns that Ludwig Kietzmann would throw around. Griffin McElroy would later join them and never in my wildest dreams would I envision that those two McElroy brothers would go on to become what they have today.
I could continue on with every podcast I’ve listened to, but that’s not really the spirit of this piece. Bringing up the McElroy brothers does though. You see, what I’ve come to realize is how attached you become to people you hear on a weekly basis. Not creepy stalker or anything, but there’s something there about hearing the same people every week for an hour or more a week that links you to them in a way.
Growing up, I only saw or talked to my extended family a few times a year. Despite them being my family, I never felt fully apart of them and I think part of it was that disconnect. I’m not a social person either, so I’ve always had trouble making friends and being parts of conversations of any sort. Podcasts though, even if it wasn’t intended, provided a sense of togetherness in a community I hadn”t really felt before.
Not to say that’s always a good thing. As I mentioned earlier, the video game community can be real scumbags at times. But podcasts typically don’t focus on that. Some of my favorite ones whether it the Player One Podcast, Giant Beastcast or the Game Informer Show all have so much humor behind them that it’s hard not to smile even during more serious topics. They make this community fun while also inviting discussions to be a part of whether it about the industry as a whole or something more lighthearted like pooping in a urinal.
That was a slight tangent, so let me get back to the idea about feeling close to some of these people. This didn’t really hit me until the passing of Ryan Davis over at Giant Bomb in 2013. I’ve never met Ryan. I had never spoke to him or even communicated to him over email or Twitter. Yet, when I learned of his passing at work, I had to suppress tears. The following podcast where his friends shared memories, I legit cried.
These are people you hear sometimes for years on end. You hear about stories of them growing up, you hear how their past weekend went, and other things you would normally discuss with friends. I know more about some of these podcasters than I do some of my family members. Perhaps that says more about me and my family relationship than most people, but let me just lay that out there. So to have feelings and emotions for these people shouldn’t seem too outlandish.
Another example is one that happened during the time of writing this. News broke that GameStop was letting go roughly 14% of their workforce in an effort to prolong their business, and in doing so many people over at Game Informer were let go. This broke my heart. The Game Informer Show is one of the podcasts that inspired this article. While they have amazing articles by writers that know how to do their job very well, it was the podcast that made me love those people there. Written pieces are fine and dandy, but the podcasts is what really drives home the kind of people that work there. So knowing certain individuals who I came to really enjoy and hear from every Friday will no longer be on that podcast and are out searching for new jobs because of this sudden news bummed out my day. Every single one of them deserve better than that and I hope they all land on their feet quickly.
I could continue on like a crazed lunatic about all of the people on these podcasts, but they’ve done so much more. For instance, part of the reason I started writing about games is because of podcasts. Hearing people talk about video games sparked a new love for the medium. Despite all the huffing and puffing about low-pay and tight deadlines, the fun and joy they had while speaking about video games and their jobs made me want to do what they do. Not enough to go out and actually try to get employment from it (perhaps at an earlier point in my life…), but at the very least gave me that desire to write and hopefully podcast (more often) about video games.
In doing so, I actually met some really cool people. People I would consider friends. Again, these are more people that I’ve never actually met in person, but I would love to at some point. These podcasts spawned communities that one could integrate into and find like-minded individuals who had the same interests as one another. Since they all listen to the same podcasts, the feel at least is that these people may also have a certain sense of humor or demeanor that corresponds with other listeners. As someone socially awkward who has a rough time getting new friends due to anxiety, having people I can talk to at least online is really nice for me. Even better that we share something in common that’s easily accessible and reoccurring enough to reinvigorate conversations.
It is for these reasons and more that I wanted to write something thanking every person in the video game industry who does a podcast. Whether I listen to the podcast or not, there is someone like me who does. Someone who is being inspired by what you do and giving them visions of the future that they might do the same thing. In fact, some may do the same thing just on a smaller scale.
So thank you. Thank you for giving me hours upon hours of entertainment every week. Thank you for making me feel like I’m part of something no matter how small. Thank you for answering dumb emails or replying to tweets to keep your audience engaged. Thank you for putting a chuckle in my belly and a grin on my face more often than I can count. Thank you for making video games fun from another angle. Thank you, thank you, thank you.