Before discussing my own show, a quick heads-up on a couple of other ‘casts I enjoy. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the erudite gents over at A Jumps B Shoots. They host one of my favorite games-focused podcasts, so I was delighted to join them for TWO shows. We discuss authorship, auteurism, aspirational play, and aesthetics broadly defined. In other words, we dig pretty deep, but Matt, Steve, and Rich keep it accessible and entertaining from beginning to end. You can listen to the first show here and the second show here.
I also made a guest appearance on the GameCritics After Dark show along with my friend Jeffrey Matulef discussing Skyward Sword and the Zelda franchise generally. It’s a lively conversation, and I thank Richard and Mike (both decidedly not fans of the latest Zelda game) for giving Jeffrey and me a chance to have our say. You can download the episode here.
So, on to my own show, the Brainy Gamer Podcast. If you’re a listener you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t released an episode lately, so I thought I’d offer an explanation and share a few things I’ve been thinking about.
A funny thing happened on my way to recording an end-of-year favorites of 2011 show. I took a look around the games podcast space and noticed that everybody and his brother, sister, mother-in-law, and second-cousin had released a best-of-2011 show. Recently I’ve harbored a concern about my show, and it’s this: I don’t think I’m adding enough value to the general conversation about games to make my show worth doing, at least as it’s currently configured. Given that I could listen to, literally, a dozen good podcasts with smart people (and, frankly, three times as many mediocre shows) all rounding up the best games of ‘11, why throw another me-too show onto the pile?
This connects to my larger concern that games podcasts mostly all sound the same: a few knowledgeable folks engaging in friendly banter about games. A “whatcha been playin’” segment is typically followed by a more focused segment on a particular game or two. A gaming-related issue may be explored. A special guest may appear. But basically - and I include my own show - it often seems like we’re all producing variations of the same format.
When I launched my podcast back in ‘07, I saw a need for a show devoted to “thoughtful conversation” about games. When I look around me now, I see many podcasts doing just that, and doing it well. The two I mentioned above, of course, but also Big Red Potion, Experience Points, Gamers With Jobs, Three Moves Ahead, and others I follow regularly.
I want to continue producing my show, but I think it’s time to reformat it. I’m drawn to the idea of a podcast that focuses each episode on a single person (or occasionally a creative duo) and explores his or her work, ideas, influences, etc. I can imagine a fascinating gallery of designers, composers, animators, writers, actors, critics, producers, etc. - each person a collection of experiences worth exploring in depth. I’m imagining a one-on-one Charlie Rose-style interview format that gives me time to discuss a wide range of topics with guests, but remain focused on the work, the unique personalities, and the individual stories of each.
I’d love some constructive feedback on this idea. If you like it, dislike it, or have suggestions for refinement, please leave a comment and let me know. I’ve always enjoyed recording my podcasts, even when my schedule makes it difficult to produce them. I’m eager to continue, but I need a stronger sense that they’re worthwhile and add value to the broader conversation about games. I think it’s time for a reboot. What do you think?