I think I spend more time listening and reading about my chosen hobby games than I actually spend doing them. In fact replace ‘think’ with ‘know’. I listen to podcasts in the car, when I am cooking dinner and of course when I’m out in the cave painting and modelling. I get through hours and hours of them every month. I’d like to think that I am bit of an expert.
In this short series of posts I want to get down on paper the various reasons of why some podcasts have stuck with me and why some have been and gone.
I think for this to work best you need to know where I am coming from in terms of hobby and personality, afterall the experience of listening is personal and our background influences our perception.
So, I am in my mid-30s. I collected a lot of games as a teenager, went away from the hobby for many years and have only come back in the last eighteen months of so. I am in IT by trade and am a sturctured and organised person in all aspects of my life. I have always been more of a collecter, painter, fluff enthusiast than gamer or gamer-nerd. When I listen to podcasts it is generally as a replacement to the radio or the TV so I am not always giving it my full attention. I think that that is enough background for you.
In terms of listening I listen to podcasts on Blood Bowl, Warhammer Fantasy, Warhammer 40k, Board games and general hobby gaming. I also subscribe to various comedy, news and sport podcasts and although not the reason for me posting this I think the rules still broadly apply to those too.
I’ll start the series by examining why I listen to podcasts and what I get out of them. In future posts I will share a bit more detail about what I want from a podcast and why I stick with some and unsubsribe from others. Finally I will share some of my favourite podcasts so that hopefully you can enjoy them too.
So what do I like and want in a podcast? What content do I want? How do I want to feel when I am listening and when it’s finished?
Yes, I listen to podcasts for some news and information, but primarily I listen to hear other people’s experiences and their joy of being part of the gaming community. This can be the guy who goes to tournaments every week, the guy who paints every day or converts every model. It can be the guy that reads that books and the ‘fluff’. It can be the person who started in the hobby when I did and has stayed in it, the person who has been in it then left it and come back, or it can be the person that ‘only’ started a few years ago but is now all-in.They all have a story to tell and I am more than happy to hear it.
Saying that I am happy to hear a story is one thing but I want to hear hobby stories. I am not interested in how much you all drank on the night of the tournament, I’m not interested in what the food was like or what it did to your bowels. It’s an experience yes but not one that needs sharing.
I’m looking for something to keep me immersed in the hobby. It doesn’t have to be much, but just enough that every few weeks or so I am encouraged to finish painting that unit or to play a game, rather than let some other distraction force its way in. This may be the most personal of the reasons that I am going to give. Some readers may be regulars at your gaming club, you may be dedicated to the point of exhaustion. I am not, I need a gentle kick up the bum every now and again…and sometimes a hard one!
Regardless, I want the banter and conversation between the hosts to be friendly and cordial. I know that some podcasts give warnings about content and language but is there really a need for swearing on a podcasts about rolling dice and moving little plastic men about a board? Maybe I’m super sensitive at the moment as I’ve got a language-absorbant toddler running around the place all the time. Maybe.
It takes me to my next point though. I don’t want a podcast that comes across as a load of mates pressing record on their iPhones and then sticking the result on the internet. We already have that in the form of Twitter and I think podcasts these days need to aim a little higher and dare I say it more professional. I enjoy hearing about a local gaming group, or a group of frinds that regularly play together. I like hearing about their leagues and campaigns even though it’s just names most of the time. It’s all part of the togetherness that I like. I don’t like the hosts assuming that I know every name that they through out though. Again, podcasts aren’t you the hosts and their mates – I don’t believe.
In terms of content I am not really after news and information, I am though looking for opinion and comment, not expertise. I don’t want to be told what I already know or what I can read myself if so motivated. I do like getting some access to the latest releases through the podcast but don’t need it read out to me. I want thoughts, reviews, comments and opinions from people with more experience and passion for the particular subject than I could ever have.
I like my podcasts to have a clear subject or theme. I am a believer in speciality and expertise. I’d rather get an electrician to rewire my house than a handyman (permits and certification aside). Similiarly I’d rather a podcast sticks to one subject and does it well; be the best painting/hobby centred podcast, or provide the best army building information, the best battle reports or the best tournament coverage. I don’t want a mixture of everything. Given the running times of most of these podcasts, I eventually settle on one or two of the jack-of-all trades ones and give up on the rest. I am far more likely to stick with a specialist podcast once I’ve found it and enjoyed the content.
At the end of each episode I want to feel that I’ve enjoyed my time with the hosts, that I’ve played the games with them and most of all that I can’t wait to download the next one. I’d like to learn a little something from each show and be inspired to go out and do my stuff ready for the next one.
I think that’s enough from me now. I hope you understand a little more about me and what I am looking for in a gaming podcast.
Look out for the next post where I will go into a little more detail on what I am looking for in a podcast.