Podcasts are still an important part of my daily commute. Since the last time I promoted the podcasts on my regular playlist, I’ve moved to an office that’s further away from home – roughly one hour from door to door – meaning I spend more time commuting each day than I did before. You’d think this means more time to listen to podcasts, but I try to make the most of the time I’m on the move by working. I’m absolutely terrible at multitasking, which means I’m unable to work while listening to people talking.
But for about 35 minutes each way, I can’t sit down and work on my laptop, and that’s 35 minutes I can zone out and listen to one of these new podcasts:
Their own take: Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life, hosted by Sarah Koenig. Serial unfolds one story – a true story – over the course of a whole season. The show follows the plot and characters wherever they lead, through many surprising twists and turns. Sarah won’t know what happens at the end of the story until she gets there, not long before you get there with her. Each week she’ll bring you the latest chapter, so it’s important to listen in, starting with Episode 1. New episodes are released on Thursday mornings.
My take: Yes, I’m listening to Serial, too. But I started listening before it was cool! Host Sarah Koenig is now well on her way with the show’s second season, which is an interesting one, but not really on the same level as season 1 was. It’s the difficult second season, it seems. But I’ll probably soldier on and listen to every single episode of this season as well.
Their own take: The eXplorminate Podcast is designed to bring you great content about 4X games: -Weekly eXchange (WeX)- is focused on providing a deep discussion about relevant 4X gaming news as well a little insight into what the staff is currently playing. -Strategic eXpanse (StraX)- is all about 4X and 4X-lite games. Here you will find eXclusive interviews with developers, discussions about game mechanics and much more. -Audible eXtension (AudiX)- offers a short follow-up to reviews written on www.eXplorminate.com. Here, the writer of the review will discuss anything that may have been left out and expand on anything that may have been unclear.
My take: If you’re looking for a podcast with 4X strategy game news, you’ve found it. There’s way too much happening on that scene nowadays for me to be able to track it all, and hosts Rob and Nate do a great job summarizing everything in their Weekly eXchange edition of the podcast. The hosts are making the podcast in their spare time, and they are not professional radio presenter or editors. But things are getting better, and each new episode sounds a bit more professional than the last.
BBC World Service Documentaries
Their own take: The best of BBC World Service documentaries and other factual programmes.
My take: The BBC World Service pumps out several radio documentaries a week, from interviews to investigative journalism, spanning a wide range of different topics. With such a high rate of production, I don’t have time to listen to every episode, but the ones I listen to are usually great. Probably not a big surprise, we are, after all, talking about the BBC here.
Home of the Brave
Their own take: Home of the Brave: new and old stories from “This American Life” contributor Scott Carrier.
My take: I first heard Scott Carrier on an episode of This American Life. Carrier’s voice is a bit weird for radio, he sounds too timid and insecure – but he is a great storyteller, and has knack for digging up some very interesting stories and people. The Home of the Brave episodes usually last around fifteen to twenty minutes, and since the podcast is supported by listener donations, no time is wasted on stamps.com commercials.
Removed from the playlist
When new podcasts are added to the playlist, others have to be removed to make room.
Their own take: Why do we make games? Every designer has a different and very personal answer to that question. Soren Johnson, founder of Mohawk Games, sits down with noted designers to find out by examining their careers as a whole.
My take: Soren Johnson was the lead designer on Civilization IV. From that I take it he knows a thing or two about game design. The Designer Notes podcast is still in my “maybe” pile. The first episode featured Rob Pardo, formerly the Chief Creative Officer at Blizzard Entertainment. That was a very exciting episode, mainly because it featured someone from a company I’d heard of who had designed games I’d actually played. The subsequent episodes have featured people and companies I’ve never heard of, and although the discussions have been interesting, I have skipped forward from time to time.
Why it is off the playlist: This podcast is great if you’re a professional game designer who wants to take overly long and deep dives into what your colleagues and competitors are into at the moments. For an average gamer, like me, it got a bit too focused on game design, and not enough about the games themselves. Also, the production quality of Designer Notes would vary a lot from episode to episode. If there were two microphones in use, which was often the case, the sound volume from the two were never normalized, making it impossible to listen to without constantly adjusting the volume.
The 2 Half-Squads: Advanced Squad Leader Podcast
Their own take: The 2 Half-Squads are Jeff Hallett and Dave Kleinschmidt, two Chicago-area gamers. The 2 Half-Squads is the only podcast dedicated 100% to Advanced Squad Leader. Join Dave and Jeff for an informative, frolicking hour of ASL talk. It’s tactics and antics, tips and quips, guns and puns, strategy and comedy. It’s ASL like you’ve never heard before!
My take: This is a curious one. I first heard about this podcast while listening to an episode of another podcast, Three Moves Ahead. The 2 Half-Squads is a show about Advanced Squad Leader, a tactical-level board wargame I’ve never played or even seen a picture of. But I’m still listening to every episode from start to finish, mostly to the credit of hosts Jeff Hallett and Dave Kleinschmidt. They are talking about something they love and listening to them is an absolute joy. Perhaps one day I’ll even try a game of ASL?
Why it is off the playlist: It’s not really that interesting to listen to two guys read from the rule book of a board game you don’t know.
All Songs Considered
Their own take: Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton spin new music from emerging bands and musical icons.
My take: There’s not a lot of music on my podcast playlist. Until the addition of All Song Considered, there was none at all. But I like music and is always on the lookout for new artist and bands, and All Songs Considered is a great podcast for discovering new music. Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton plays a wide range of genres, and I’ve already saved a few to my Spotify playlists.
Why it is off the playlist: While All Songs Considered introduced me to a lot of great music, they also played tons and tons of crap. But what made me stop listening to the show in the end was the NPR presenters, the young ones in particular. They came out as pretentious as fuck at times, with a repulsive better-than-you attitude.
Their own take: Join video game industry host and producer Geoff Keighley as he sits down for intimate conversations with the leaders, designers and influencers who are shaping the video game industry.
My take: GameSlice is a brand new podcast from Geoff Keighley. So far, only a single episode has been published, and from that episode alone, it’s hard to tell if this is a podcast I’ll continue listening to or not. Keighley interviewed Gabe Newell and Erik Johnson from Valve in the first episode, and if he continue to get game industry stars like them to appear on the show, I’m pretty much sold.
Why it is off the playlist: Game slice had a lot of potential, but Keighley only ever released a single episode of the show.
Gamers With Jobs – Conference Call
Their own take: The official podcast of GamersWithJobs.com, every week the guys discuss the latest games, issues affecting the industry and more! This is THE gaming podcast for mature gamers.
My take: Gamers With Jobs – Conference Call is a general computer gaming podcast, and I only started listening to it since I’m a gamer with a job. The podcast doesn’t really stand out from other gaming podcasts, like The Game Informer Show, which is mentioned below, but I like their crew and they often discuss games in genres I enjoy. Also, they don’t tend to have overly long segments about each game, but instead cover a wide range.
Why it is off the playlist: It’s been a while since I stopped listening to this one, but if I remember correctly, the main reason I removed it from the playlist that it gradually turned booooooooring.
The Game Informer Show
Their own take: The staff of Game Informer chat it up each week bout the latest news, previews and reviews from the game industry. Each show will cover the weeks hot topics plus the games you’re looking forward to or may not know about yet. Subscribe today!
My take: Like Gamers With Jobs – Conference Call, The Game Informer Show is also a general gaming podcast. But unlike the conference call, they usually cover fewer games in longer segments and every so often they release special podcasts dedicated to only one game. The games they discuss in the special podcasts usually don’t interest me much, at least none of their special podcasts has done that so far, but that’s OK since I can simply skip them. The Game Informer Show might be on its way out of my regular playlist, simply because I listen to too many gaming podcasts and this is the one I enjoy the least.
Why it is off the playlist: The podcast’s main man quit to pursue a career outside of the gaming industry, and two new guys stepped in to revitalize the show. In this case, it didn’t work too well, and for some reason they decided to increase the length of each episode to two hours. Ain’t nobody got time for that.