Here in Canada we gamers are deep in the bowels of winter, which means long hours of cold and darkness. Perfect for gaming, yes. But sometimes even we hardy Canadian nerds don’t want to leave the comfort of our nice, warm homes. And when those days come, I turn to one of my favourite pastimes, podcast listening.
It wasn’t always so, but these days there are a metric buttload (approx. 1.3 times as big as the imperial buttload) of podcasts to choose from. No matter the game, you can usually find a podcast to suit your needs. Or if you’re like me, you can listen to a plethora of general gaming podcasts to get a broader look at the gaming world out there. Quality will vary, obviously, and you may have to hunt to find ones you can stand to listen to for extended periods. But the vast majority, though produced on a shoe-string, are produced well. And sound quality has certainly picked up since the early days.
If you aren’t a podcast aficionado, or even if you are but are looking for new podcasts to put in your earholes, here are some of my favourites to help you out.
Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff – As much a podcast for writers as it is for gamers (enough so, that I included it in an article I wrote on Podcasts for Writers), Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff features Robin D. Laws and Kenneth Hite. Amidst a fairly healthy amount of self-promotion (which I like, because these guys work on some of the coolest stuff) each episode features GM advice, story building ideas, book suggestions, and always interesting discussions of a variety of topics ranging from Cthulhian conspiracies to early 20th Century spycraft. Any single episode can inspire any number of campaign ideas, and binge listening can produce a “centipede’s dilemma” effect on your adventure writing. But I never miss a new episode, and I am slowly working my way through the back catalog. A must listen for GMs.
Fear the Boot – One of the first podcasts I listened to, I’ve stuck with it because the format is just so damned entertaining. Each episode is essentially a round table discussion of some topic relating to the table-top hobby. Sometimes it’s a discussion of a particular game, or a look at GMing and play styles, or a lively discussion of gaming culture. Whatever the topic, it very much feels like you’re eavesdropping on a bunch of gaming nerd friends as they shoot the breeze in someone’s basement. Which, for the most part, it is. It’s every intense discussion you’ve ever had about gaming, if someone recorded and edited it.
Shut Up and Sit Down! – If board games are more your thing, Shut Up and Sit Down! is definitely the first podcast you should be listening to. Great reviews, great play tips, tricks, and strategies, matched with a completely irreverent style. Like Fear the Boot, it’s very much like you were listening to your friends talk about board games. If your friends are English, super-excited, and just a bit (lot) silly, that is. If you prefer video over audio, they also have a host of game play videos for your delight and edification. Definitely worth a watch/listen if, like me, you want to expand your board gaming horizons.
Game Master’s Journey – If you’re a GM looking for advice and inspiration on a wide variety of gaming systems, look no further. Of all the podcasts I listen to, this one touches on the broadest range of games. Which I appreciate, even if I know I’ll likely never get to GM them; I can still pull great ideas from other systems. I’m not always a fan of game play podcasts, but even the ones on here are entertaining, and easy to listen to in the background as I work on other things. If you don’t like them, though, no worries. Just jump around and download the episodes you want. You’ll be glad you did.
Okay, there’s four to get you started. And if you’ve been listening to gaming podcasts for a while, what are some of your favourites? Drop them in the comments below.