3PoS Annual End of the Year Podcast Review, 2012

I’m revisiting the posting I put up in Dec 2011 for an update on what podcasts I’ve listened to this year.  Yes, this is part of that general trend one sees on blogs and podcasts this time of year.. “the Best of ___” and all that.

General Trends & Technology Changes.  I’m STILL an avid fan of podcasts and podcasting but 2012 was a year of branching out into other media and other delivery methods.   Most of my favorite podcasts had alternative forms of media that they have supplementing their base podcasts with, and all of them have jumped into social media in a big way.  So it’s more common to follow a Youtube channel or a Twitter feed than a podcast feed these days. Personally, I branched out and listened to far more podcasts on apps, specifically STITCHER (which allows an entire show to spool into memory for playback, which is a handy feature) as well as Apple’s own native Podcasts App, which was spun off from Itunes Music when the IoS operating system upgraded to 6.0. I actually like Apple’s Podcasts app for what it is; unlike Todd Wasserman at Mashable, I think the basic app has merit and a feature that is rarely seen; a fast forward button (invaluable in a cast that has a lot of commercials in it).

I really don’t get podcast content as a direct download very much any more, so this is a significant change. As I allude to above, the media channels are growing MORE diverse. There are even more choices now than in 2011– Itunes isn’t the only game in town. It is not at all unusual for me to listen to an audio cast, and have it supplemented with a reference to some visual medium like an Instagram channel, Twitter feed, Facebook page or whatever. Social media is having a huge impact on Podcasting and it can’t be ignored.

“Networks”: 2012 was  a great year for “networks”.. specifically the Dice Tower network, which premiered with great fanfare either late in 11 or early 12.  Other than being a handy place to go to download podcasts, I’m not sure exactly what a podcast network is supposed to do, other than sharing the load for publicity.  I did discover some “Network” podcasts via the Dice Tower that I was previously unaware of and really enjoy, such as Ludology and Little Metal Dog.  So perhaps this approach works.  I find a little enervating, though— like a firehose blast of gaming material that never ends, leaving the casual listener to wonder if he’s missing something this week.

Topics: I’m a gaming geek at heart, that’s pretty obvious if you read this blog or know me even remotely. So one might assume I listen to gaming podcasts all the time— wrong! That was certainly incorrect in 2012. Sure, I listen to gaming podcasts, but I have grown choosier as to whom I spend all my time with and my listening tastes were far more diverse in 2012. Gaming podcasts have a tendency towards sameness after a while and the listener occasionally desires something spicier than Wonder Bread. So I listen to other topics far more than gaming these days. I’m going to include the ones that I listen to, the ones that I discovered, plus a few that aren’t on topic but are worth a look.

Gaming Podcasts:  I don’t want to give the impression that rank order is all that important.  In the following list, these are the podcasts I listened to the most in 2012 and why.  If a podcast has dropped lower or left the top 5, I’ll explain why.

  1. Meeples and Miniatures deserves special mention for being maybe the ONLY generalist podcast on the subject of tabletop miniatures gaming that isn’t tied to a single game like Flames of War, Warhammer, WarMachine, etc.  I wish there were more like these, because Neil Shuck can’t cover everything!  Meeples and Miniatures is timely, has great interviews, interesting topics and great reviews.  I’ll be honest, the accent is a bit thick at times and sometimes I’m scratching my head, but not that often.  This podcast is about having fun, and it shows.
  2. The Gaming Gang was listened to quite a bit in 2012– their reviews are topnotch, and they take the time to discuss trends and other topics in the industry.  I find the show to be upbeat and enjoyable.   Production values are topnotch and ALL of their shows, even when they are doing negative reviews, have an upbeat and enthusiastic quality that I like.
  3. I’ve Been Diced!  This was my number one for last year and has dropped a little because frequency has gone down, partially due to the show’s moderator (Tom Grant) moving to the Washington DC area.  I enjoy this show’s approach to reviews and discussions– quiet, humorous and thoughtful.
  4.  Gameopolis is hanging in there, my number 2 from last year.  It would be higher if the show was more regular.  I like Mark and Jeff’s trademark timing and humor, and their choices for discussion are usually pretty nostalgic for me.   I am very happy they didn’t do a podfade, as I thought they might back at the end of 2011.
  5. Little Metal Dog is a podcast I discovered in 2011 and have been really enjoying.  LMD is a podcast brimming with gentle humor and actually is written by two chaps who have a sense of comedic timing and performance– kind of like the English Gameopolis.  I just wish there were more of them (shows, I mean).

(The Plus Four categories)

6. The Secret Cabal Gaming Podcast  is another “generalist” cast, very chatty and very good reviews.  Great production values– reminds me strongly of The Gaming Gang.

7. The Long View/2D6.org Podcast would probably rate higher with me if they were  a little more regular.  The commentary is funny and the games that they review I’m generally interested in.

8. A Life Well Wasted is mostly about videogames, which I am pretty ignorant of, Still, I like the philosophical approach of this podcast, and many themes they explore are universal to all gaming.

9. Three Moves Ahead has excellent production values and covers a pretty big waterfront.  The show can lose some focus now and then as the hosts attempt cordial bonhommie and one-upsmanship, but they are good and thoughtful reviewers and have had some great interviews.

HUH? What happened to??
The Dice Tower? The audio program is still very good and I listen to it, just not as much any more.  I find myself watching Tom Vasel’s Youtube channel frequently, but very selectively.  The audio podcast, not so much.  I went from listening to Dice Tower on Stitcher every week to only once in a while, and watching Youtube reviews instead.  Tom Vasel’s video production skills have really developed during this period and I’m really enjoying these.  Selectively.

The D6 Generation?  Three years ago this was my go-to podcast, but my interests changed.  I think the show’s format hasn’t changed much overall and having to fast forward over the commercial spots (which are all over this podcast) got annoying.  D6 Generation still has a lot of fans and sets the bar VERY high for reviews, so I’m sure they’ll keep on keeping on.

Podfades:  Personally, I can’t think of a great podcast that I was listening to in 2011 that podfaded in 2012.  If you can, let me know.

Broadening your Horizons!  Hey, Scrooge, get out there and let your soul wander the Earth a bit more than just gaming podcasts!  Here are five additional podcasts that HAVE LITTLE OR NOTHING TO DO WITH GAMING!

  1. NPR”s TED RADIO HOUR is a great podcast about new technologies and new solutions.  It’s part of the TED TALKS series.
  2. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is another spinoff from NPR.  Thoughtful stories, usually broken up into three parts.
  3. DAN CARLIN’S HARDCORE HISTORY is a show where literally every show is a treat to be savored.. an hour plus of Carlin’s frenetic but thoughtful analysis of historic events.
  4. NPR’s Planet Money is a podcast that focuses on finances.. but with the aim of explaining financial concepts that confuse and befuddle us.
  5. DOUG LOVES MOVIES is a funny podcast about movies and trivia.  The highlight of the podcast is “The Leonard Maltin Game” which has to be heard to be understood.