Welcome to PodWatch! A series from writers who want to share their insight of the Video Game Podcasts industry. Got a podcast recommendation for us? Share them in the comments section below!
We all get the sick irony of being adult gamers right? All the money to buy games, none of the time to actually play them....
This is even worse for parent gamers with less time than usual game-playing humans. Playing a big AAA game takes forever and keeping up with the deluge of gaming news stories and releases every week can be difficult.
It strikes me that for those with not a lot of time, children or no children, the majority of gaming podcasts that are only playing the latest games might be unrelatable.
Listeners may not want to hear about or be spoiled on, the latest AAA open world game when they are still slowly slogging through last year's open world game. They may not want to hear about how the hosts poured forty hours into their second run-through of Elden Ring and a deep dive into the merits of New Game + when just finishing a game for the first time is their only goal.
So which casts are safe listens, and who can Parent Gamers relate to? What podcasts are for them?
Recommendation #1: Cheap Ass Gamer (CAG Cast)
The CAG Cast was born out of the Cheap Ass Gamer forum site that was started in 2003 (when forum sites were all the rage), and as the title might suggest was focused on capturing game sales information in the hopes of enabling users to get the games they wanted as cheap as they could.
The podcast, which has been running since 2005, with over seven hundred episodes, is hosted by the site's founder, David Abrams who goes by the alias CheapyD where he is joined by his two friends Shipwreck and Wombat.
All three are dads with kids and busy lives and while they try to keep up to date with the latest news and games they tend to stick to the stuff they can realistically fit into their lives. Wombat, for example, almost exclusively plays Fortnite.
I've enjoyed listening to the podcast for over five years now, and tangentially I've gotten to know a lot about their families and personal lives. Once a year they do a special where they invite their kids onto the show and it's quite sweet (this, coming from someone who is deathly allergic to kids, is high praise).
The podcast also covers TV, Film, and Ping-Pong as other topics of conversation. They are very interactive with their community on the forums, if that's a selling point, and regularly do awesome things such as raiding people's streams (that's a good thing) and raising money for charity.
I'd recommend not trying to go too far back into time and mostly only listening to their more recent stuff. The podcast has changed over the years in response to listener feedback and so there are older episodes that may not have aged that well. For example, their TV segment used to be called "Watch This, B*tches" which of course drew ire from those who didn't like the term and so the hosts dutifully changed the naming of that segment.
Recommendation #2: Gamers With Jobs Conference Call
The Gamers With Jobs Conference Call is a podcast that, very much like Cheap Ass Gamer, comes with a massive community following. GWJ as the title suggests was born out of two very busy men (who at the time were not traditionally employed), Sean Sands, and Shawn Andrich who launched the website and the podcast and quickly collected a community of very likeminded individuals: gamers with jobs.
The podcast has been running over 800 episodes. Sean and Shawn are no longer leading the charge and have left the site and the pod in the very capable hands of Amanda Knowlton and their cast of hosts.
Whilst the pod has been described as a show for the more 'mature' gamer and features a cast and community of parents and busy people, it is by no stretch of the imagination a boring podcast. They still find a way to cover the latest news and what they have been playing, just often with a parenting perspective. Topics from the forums are also a common topic for discussion so if you are active in the community you can feed into the pod.
For a variety of reasons, busy-ness being one of them, the hosts on the podcast don't just play the newest games, and the crew is regularly diving into older, affordable, or indie games and spend a good portion of the pod talking about what they have been playing.
Their forums and discord are very active and they even post articles on their site. The site covers all aspects of gaming including tabletop and DND and like any big, amazing community, the site runs a yearly charity drive, as well as its own fundraising efforts to keep itself going.
Ten years ago there very much was this obvious split between podcasts run by youthful games journalists, with all the time and energy in the world that could play every game and stay awake for five days straight while covering E3, and the more close-to-home podcasts run by those who had more realistic lives. It was, at that time, quite understandable that people who would call themselves mum or dad gamers would seek out podcasts that wouldn't leave them feeling left behind, and in return podcasts were formed to meet that demand.
A decade later the dividing line is definitely more blurred. All those young up-and-coming journalists now have families and young kids themselves and it's way more common, especially now in the pandemic, to hear them talk about the reality of being parents with young children. For example, Brian Altano of IGN, talked about how all he could really play during his paternity leave was Fortnite on the Switch whilst his daughter slept.
I think it is for these reasons we are seeing fewer podcasts that are directly aimed at a busier cohort of people, though they haven't died out completely. CAG and GWJ started off in that corner but have grown to create an audience and a velocity that perpetuates them.
Thank you for reading Podwatch, if you haven't already, check out the other articles in the series.
Got a podcast recommendation to share? Drop a comment below.
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