I consume podcasts at an alarming rate. It’s my major form of entertainment, and I listen to them while I’m doing chores, while driving, while hobbying, even when I go to bed at night. They’re perfect for me because, unlike videos, I can be doing something else at the same time and still listen to what I want.
Now, not only do I listen to a lot of podcasts, but I discard them pretty quickly too. While I do maintain a core of podcasts that I listen to regularly and keep in rotation, I’ve probably listened to and then deleted more podcasts – especially gaming podcasts – than I’d really like to admit.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE gaming podcasts and I think they’re a phenomenal way to keep up with the games you like, to hear games played, and even to learn more about games you’ve never heard of. But, at least in my way of thinking, there are certain boxes that you have to check in order to keep my attention.
“What are those criteria?” I hear you cry.
Well, funny you should ask…
Brevity is the Soul of Wit
Podcast length is a major issue in determining whether or not I’m going to keep listening to a particular show. Usually 60 to 90 minutes is the limit for me, because that’s generally how long I’m doing chores, painting minis, etc., at any one time. As of this writing, Games Workshop is a week into their new thrice-weekly StormCast podcast, and each episode is 15 minutes long, which makes for great bite-sized listening. My issue becomes when a show stretches to 2, 3, and 4 hours. Some well-known podcasts do that, and I’ve listened to them. Great shows, don’t get me wrong, but by the time I get through an episode, the next one has already come out and I just can’t justify that kind of time commitment for one podcast.
Sound and Fury
While it’s not a deal-breaker for me, sound quality of a podcast is important. The sound quality doesn’t need to be perfect. I can stand background noise, even. But if it becomes a chore to determine what’s being said, or who is saying what, then I will drop the podcast and not look back.
Don’t Worry, be Happy
Podcasts, for me, have to be fun. Otherwise, what’s the point of listening? And a big part of being fun is, simply, being positive. Nothing, to me, kills a podcast quicker than the hosts being grumps or continuously negative about the game or games they’re supposed to enjoy.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not down for honest critiques of particular games, game supplements, minis, etc. Those are important viewpoints to get out there into the gaming community. And there are certainly issues in gaming that are important to discuss and get out into the open.
However, having a podcast that’s continuously in a dour mood is a downer. I recently dropped a podcast because it was difficult to determine whether the two hosts were just kidding around or if the increasingly personal insults they were hurling at each other were rooted in genuine animosity. I don’t need that in my ears.
One is the Loneliest Number
As Piglet from the Winnie the Pooh books once said, “It’s so much friendlier with two,” and that goes for podcasting as well. While a one-host format works well sometimes, in my experience what makes for good podcasts are two or even three folks in the recording booth to bounce ideas off of and converse with. With one, you’re just kind of echoing words off of the walls and can sound like a newscaster.
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube