Okay, the title is actually a lie because I do listen to podcasts about board and card games. When I first got into the podcast scene, I listened to them at every waking moment of my day. From the moment I woke up, I had the next podcast in the queue. I subscribed to between 15 and 20 of the major board game podcasts and I didn’t miss a single episode. I got the scoop on all the board game news, got to hear first impressions and reviews, and in some cases, heard commentary on the board game hobby as a whole. Sounds pretty good right? So then what changed?
While each show has unique quirks and different segments, they generally follow the same prescripted formula in a conversational style:
What Have We Been Playing Lately
Board Game News
A Review or Topic of Discussion or Top Ten List
Or a combination of those three.
If I was lucky, an interview or special guest.
And because of this and the general culture of new and unreleased games, I heard literally a segment and review about the same games across ten different podcasts. While different perspectives are good, there was only so many times I could hear the brilliance of Time Stories while feeling like I was the only person who disliked the game. The same goes for the board game news and the diversity of opinions on the news was lacking… For example, when Asmodee was buying up every company in existence, I only heard from gamers who were concerned about the ‘board game bubble’ bursting and did not hear an industry perspective.
This is a phenomenon that infects the board game hobby – similar and redundant content. I do not want more of the same (e.g., prescripted podcast format, a White guy standing in front of his game shelf, variety shows, etc.). I want more original content, with more diverse opinions and perspectives, with more diverse people. One of the reasons why we do not have diverse content is the lack of diverse lived-experiences within the hobby. If you haven’t dived in to podcasts as a way to consume media in general, I would urge you to do so. The amount of diverse approaches to using this medium is astounding. Many of the different styles could be adapted to the hobby with great reception.
I recently unsubscribed to most of my board game podcasts. Hearing 15 similar perspectives on games and news was not a good use of my time. As I was unsubscribing, I identified five podcasts that did something different and broke out of the traditional mold. I kept them and still listen to them on occasion:
This is probably the podcast closest to ‘traditional’ that I still listen to. Erin and Ryan bring a lot of energy and their genuine selves into their show and it shines through. There are two main reasons why I keep their podcast in my subscriptions: First, they focus on spotlighting indie games every month to review and usually, since it is indie, it is a game I haven’t heard of or that I have heard only limited information about. Second, they have picked fantastic discussion topics to dialogue about on the show and always ask meaningful and deep questions that get me thinking differently about that topic.
I met Erin from Cardboard Republic at a local convention almost a year ago. We were talking about representation and inclusion in the hobby for a couple hours and she mentioned she was starting a new podcast with two other folks, . Their vision was to focus on the positive of gaming, and this definitely is a part of inclusion in the hobby. And the three of them have delivered on their initial mission. They take a variety of topics and make it accessible for everyone. A good example is how they talk about the name of their podcast – Gateway games is a term generally used for simpler games to get people who don’t play games in the hobby but have been invalidated now as ‘real games’ by elitist gamers. Their punny name challenges that narrative about who is a ‘real gamer’ and brings more people into the gaming fold. Oh, did I mention they have pet updates every episode J
This is probably the only podcast that I don’t miss an episode. The podcast is less than 30 minutes and the format is genius. Five contributors each pick a game and explain why they love or like the game in 5 minutes. The contributors pick many different games, not just the new and popular ones. This provides a fast and fun way to learn about many different games. I would highly recommend checking out this podcast.
This is a podcast featuring a group of women board gamers with the goal of providing space for women in gaming and working towards more inclusivity. I have been listening since episode one and Cathy and company have been knocking it out of the park. This podcast has a good balance of interviews, dialogues and discussions, board game news, and board game rundowns. I hope to collaborate with It’s Our Turn in the near future to talk about diversity and inclusion in the hobby.
This is another podcast featuring women board gamers but in a much shorter form than It’s Our Turn. Board Game Blitz is a 30 minute podcast with very interesting and different segments. For example, they have an Etymology segment diving into the roots of different words in board gaming. In addition to the interesting segments, the hosts all have vast different tastes in games. From lights, party style games to 18XX games, Board Game Blitz covers it all!