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Podcasts revisited

October 3rd, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · No Comments · Uncategorized

A few months ago, I wrote about how I couldn’t find many good gaming podcasts. The amateur ones were too amateurish and the professional ones sometimes felt a little disjointed.

After months of checking out recommendations and giving others a chance, I have to say that things are better.

The PC Gamer podcast, in particular, has improved a lot in the last couple of months. There is a better sense of pacing, smoother transitions between topics and some actual discussion and debate – something I thought had been lacking when I first started tuning in in the spring. I still find the voices that are not-Kristen Salvatore and not-Gary Whitta hard to distinguish, but that’s more on me than them. I can’t tell my brothers apart on the phone, either.

The move of many places to video podcasts is not something I want to encourage, though. Leaving aside the issue of proper attire or posture for those on camera, video is an entirely different medium from audio and playing too much to the camera means that something may be lost to those who are just listening. Like most people I think, podcasts are background listening for me, something to occupy one part of my brain while I work with the other part. (I work best with background noise of some kind.) Don’t force me to watch a bunch of editors talk when there’s usually nothing to see except them talking. And, if you are just talking, there’s no need to waste time and manpower filming it. Use video for video stuff.

The 1UP Show is both good and bad for this reason. When it comes to filming developers or game action, 1UP knows what it’s doing. The shots look good without being flashy, it has a “you are there” thing about it mostly because they don’t have any desire to become filmmakers. This isn’t a TV show and they don’t try to jazz up the show by making the presenters into personalities. The games are the stars.

But sometimes there is just too much one guy talking to another guy. I like a good talking head show, but good talking head shows need a sense of theater about them in order for the visuals to work.

Here in DC, there is a Saturday night sports round table show during football season. Redskins Report with Geroge Michael, Sonny Jurgensen, John Riggins and Michael Wilbon. Wilbon and Michael are also on the weekly basketball show Full Court Press when the Wizards season starts. It’s just four guys in chairs, but is very good TV not just because these guys are entertaining, but because each one serves a purpose and plays a role. Even when they agree, it is clear that each speaker is coming at the issue from a different perspective. It’s not always combative – this isn’t Crossfire killing America – but it never fails to be compelling TV if you are interested in sports.

The PC Gamer podcast is becoming my podcast of choice now because it now comes closest to the roundtable ideal for me. It’s still a ways off. As important as weekly regulars are to a podcast’s success, the magazine has some strong columnists (especially Steve Klett and Desslock) who should be encouraged to do the show once a month.


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