Welcome to PodWatch! It's a series from writers who want to share their insight into the video game podcast industry. Got a podcast recommendation for us? Share them in the comments section below!
Video game entertainment website IGN has a plethora of high production-quality, highly polished podcasts. From Podcast Beyond, to GameScoop, to Nintendo Voice Chat, these podcasts are basically mini TV shows. They have set formats, accompanying b-roll for the video stream, live audience shows for certain milestones, and unique physical sets that they film and record in front of (or at least they did pre-Covid).
While these podcasts strike a level of quality, polish, and consistency, one podcast stands alone from all the rest.
The IGN UK Podcast is best described as a bunch of lads* having some bants.
(*Whilst predominantly a male podcast, they do have female co-hosts appear from time to time.)
Obviously recorded across the ocean in the UK this podcast follows a similar beat of covering gaming news albeit with a different tone and format.
For one the podcast is not something you should play out loud at work or in front of kids. While not explicitly NSFW the podcast doesn't shy away from swearing, something the other podcasts try not to do, not to mention topics like Willem Dafoe's genitals are repeat topics of conversation (IYKYK).
Whist billed as a gaming podcast, TV, movies and football are also standing topics for the show. New blockbuster films and prestige TV often get dedicated spoiler discussion episodes (spoilercasts) by the group. Collectively the hosts' favorite movie is 2006's The Prestige, going so far as to ask every single guest and celebrity (yes celebrities!) they interview if they have seen the movie. Once a year in London (Covid permitting) they hire out an entire cinema to watch the Prestige with their fans and get royally drunk in a pub before and after the screening.
At the end of every year, whilst every other gaming podcast on the planet is doing their 'Game of the Year' dedicated show, this podcast ziggs, while the world zaggs. They do their own awards for both Gaming and Movies/Film, with a twist. The 'Alternative' Awards cover the games and media from the year that the hosts want to talk about, which may not necessarily get discussed at this time of year. They couch the games they want to discuss with bizarre prompts such as "Ultimate John Wick Simulator" and "The game that made me feel really smart and stupid."
Their connection with the fans is a strong one, with the community's involvement regularly spawning some very specific special episodes. A throwaway comment resulted in their being a sandwich special and another series of events resulted in an entire episode being dedicated to drowning stories submitted by the fans, and now every fan of the show writes in questions and comments with a closing line of "Respect the Sea." A recent special, episode 641, is all about grave digging stories!
Finally, they end every podcast with a game. They used to have a specific game they played at the end of the show but after a key host left they replaced it with a segment called "The Endless Search" that even has its own theme song. The Endless Search is a collection of different types of games that the hosts or fans submit to the show. My favourites are 'PG Tips' where the hosts try to guess the movie based on the complaints overly protective parents leave as a warning about the movie (yes this is a British Tea reference). There's also "Go on, Name them" where they compete to see who can name the most things, but the trick is to try and bluff your opponent into trying to name too many and then they lose.
It should come to no surprise that I have been listening to this podcast for a very long time, nearly a decade I believe, and its off-the-wall British 'lad' energy has kept me looking forward to their episodes every week. In that time I've actually stopped listening to many of the other IGN podcasts as their formulaic polish has worn thin on me, but not these guys, as it's never a dull day on the show.
Go give them a listen if you are interested, just maybe make sure you wear headphones or listen in private!
And god dammit, RESPECT THE SEA.
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