I recently started a new job, and with it comes a new
commute. I have to drive now, which means no more playing Switch or mobile
games while riding in a bus or vanpool, and this new job also didn’t really
decrease the amount of time I spend on the road. So, for the first time in my
life, I’ve gotten really into podcasts.
My husband, an avid Magic the Gathering/comic book/video game fan, has been listening to geeky podcasts for as long as I’ve known him. If I’m doing the dishes or folding laundry, I usually have some house buying, dressing trying on, dating reality show on the TV. On the other hand, he is almost always listening to a podcast- most often about Magic the Gathering, but he turned me on to one of the podcasts on the list below. The man loves a good podcast. Heck, he even did the theme song for our friend’s comic book podcast (Earth’s Mightiest Podcast) and has been on a few episodes.
Every time he would put on a podcast, I’d groan: “Why would you want to listen to people you don’t know talking to each other?” I really didn’t get it, but I think the issue was that I hadn’t found a genre/format of podcast that I enjoyed. When I started this blog, I started making a more concerted effort to keep up with video game releases and gaming industry news, so suddenly podcasts created by people in the know were really interesting. And a great way to get a lot of information without having to read websites and magazines (which is really frowned upon if you’re also driving a car, apparently).
So, I found the topic of podcasts, I liked, but there are tons and tons of video game podcasts out there. I found myself being drawn to podcasts created by and featuring women who game. I suppose as a female gamer, I related to these gamers and their perspectives. I also struggled with a bunch of podcasts where I’d enjoy them for an episode or so before someone was suddenly dropping their offensive and misogynistic opinions. I don’t always agree with the opinions provided on the podcasts below, and often there are disagreements between the cast on the podcast, but I’ve found these to be thoughtful disagreements that don’t resort to harassment and name-calling.
Also, I’m a scientist by trade, so I love good data-driven, evidence-based story telling. Some of my go-to podcasts have a slightly scientific spin to them but in a fun way that keeps them understandable and accessible to a wide general audience.
If you’re looking for the best video game podcasts, look no further. Here are my five favorite video game podcasts of 2019.
The Girls on Games podcast is a weekly podcast that is 200+ episodes in. Leah Jewer, Alicia Alexandra, and Catherine Smith-Desbiens, along with their podcast producer, Simon Marcoux, get together to talk video games and geek culture. The podcast is based out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. And the format of the podcast is perfection. The women begin by sharing the games they are currently playing. While it could be as simple as a brief sentence, this segment sometimes ends up lasting 30 minutes with everyone sharing their likes and dislikes. I have discovered more new games on this podcast than anywhere else. Then they move on to industry news, providing their unique opinions and having thoughtful discussions of the implications and repercussions of the happenings in the gaming industry. For example, episode 220 included a discussion of the struggles of “mid-career women in the video game industry including wage gaps, the infamous glass ceiling and the struggles of work-life balance especially as a parent.” It was so insightful and interesting. Also, listening to how everyone pronounces “Mario” with their distinct accents is hilariously adorable.
The Mommy Gamers
Marcia Morgan is the staple member of The Mommy Gamers, a podcast comprised of parents and video game industry professionals. The podcast, and now website and Twitch community, has been growing since 2012. The perspective of other parents trying to balance work and parenting and chores and personal interests is something all of us can relate to. Marcia leverages her industry connections to get some amazing and hilarious guests on the podcast. The topic of each podcast is always a little unpredictable and might be video game or parenting or something else equally nerdy and enjoyable. I especially appreciate Marcia’s quick wit and infectious laugh. Some of the titles of the podcast episodes are hilarious, and they can be related to something that someone says, so it’s neat to find the reason for the title while you’re listening. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be adding new episodes as of February 2019, but there is a huge backlog of almost 200 episodes for me (and you) to explore.
The Psychology of Video Games
Dr. Jamie Madigan is the host of this monthly podcast that examines the psychology behind gamer’s behavior and how developers factor that into their games. Each month, he tackles a different topic, from moral choices in games to loot boxes to self-determination. It’s clear that he does extensive research on each of these topics, which is why this is a monthly podcast instead of a weekly one. But, between his research and his amazing expert guests, I leave each podcast feeling 10x smarter. This is the podcast I bring up with my non-gamer friends when we’re talking about things like video games and violence or video game addiction. The April 2019 podcast on what drives people to collect virtual items and how game developers take advantage of our desire to collect was really interesting and informative.
What’s Good Games
A weekly video game podcast for about all the best that the geek world has to offer. The women behind What’s Good Games are Andrea Rene, Brittney Brombacher and Kristine Steimer, and they are powerhouse of industry insights. The do a lot of great game reviews for new and upcoming games. It’s also clear during the discussions that they are really good friends, and they do crack each other up all the time. When I’m stuck in road-rage inducing traffic, there is something nice about hearing people joking and laughing with each other. I saw this podcast described as “joyful enthusiasm” in one review and I couldn’t agree more.
Retronauts is the podcast that my husband turned me on to, and one of the first video game podcasts I listened to. This podcast has been around forever ever, and touts itself as the “original classic gaming podcast” on an “endless quest to explore the history of video games, one game at a time.” In this latest iteration of the podcast, two former hosts, Jeremy Parish and Bob Mackey, are back to examine popular games and the stories behind them. This is a podcast designed to educate as well as entertain. Each week, they and their guests pick a game and explore the cultural relevance of the game, its historical context, the critical and public reception, and their personal anecdotes. They strike a great balance of talking about impact without judgement. And sometimes they will bring up a game that I haven’t thought about in decades. Personally, my favorite episode was the one about Final Fantasy.
There you have it, my picks for the best video game podcasts of 2019. If you haven’t heard of these podcasts, I hope you give them a try. And if you have a favorite podcast (or if you are a part of a podcast), share it below. I’d love to have a listen and find a new favorite!
Beth lives in Georgia with her husband, toddler daughter, two cats, and basement full of video games. She has a full-time job and a crazy commute. Beth describes her parenting style as “instant oats mama.” She’s a crunchy mama who also appreciates modern conveniences. In her spare time, you’ll catch her playing exploration, simulation, survival, or puzzle games.