Podcasts, the MMO for Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Podcasts were around before the iPod but Apple incorporated podcasts right into iTunes making podcast programming easy to find, download and enjoy. Podcasts are typically 15 minutes to 2 hour audio programs. A quick iTunes search for World of Warcraft podcasts yields pages and pages of results (well over 200 podcasts are listed). Just like any search result, all of the WoW podcasts aren’t relevant and many have podfaded. If you can sift through the chaff though, there are some excellent podcasts that will inform and entertain while you are stuck in traffic or waiting for a plane.
Round ‘Em Up
Following is a podcast roundup of the current crop of podcasts on my iPod that center on World of Warcraft (plus a few bonus podcasts). I have fairly simple criteria for making it onto my iPod. The elements of a successful show may not be comedy or hard-hitting news but overall it needs to be fun to listen to and provide information in a way that’s easy on the ears (don’t even start with the easy listening!).
Some podcasts have been around for a while, others are fairly recent additions. There have been many podcasts go the way of Tabula Rasa so I’ve not included any in the round-up who haven’t posted an update in 4 months. In any case following are some of the podcasts and how they fit into the overall WoW-podcast landscape. I’ve listed the casts in order of how you should listen to them – i.e. If you have a short/select amount of time start at the top and if you have more keep adding from the list.
One of the longest running and most consistent podcasts out there. The two hosts (Scott and Randy) have been at this a while and Scott is a professional so the show sounds good. Randy provides some great insight into what is happening in WoW and acts as the WoWGuru while Scott plays the “everyman.” The podcast also started the largest guild in the world Alea Iacta Est (AIE) which has created spin-off podcasts as well as a great marketing tool for the podcast. This is the granddaddy of them all, I can’t do it justice in a paragraph. This and Warcast are two of the only casts that are family friendly. Be careful, most podcasts with the “Explicit” tag deserve it.
Starman started the podcast right as podcasting broke out of obscurity and has settled on a co-host Renata that really brings a font of information to the table. While being one of the longest running podcasts, it is also one of the most flakey. This is not a podcast for breaking news, it’s a great show to learn more about tricks and tips from Renata and pick up some raiding tips from Starman.
This show has gone through a few iterations but has finally hit its stride. Adding Turpster as a pseudo permanent co-host, Mike (lead host) brings an interesting cast of additional hosts each week to add flavor and their specialty to the mix. This show is also one of the more consistent publications and is a routine favorite of mine.
Aussies always have a good time and this group of Aussies is fun to listen to while they discuss WoW, life and work (not necessarily in that order). They can get derailed for good chunks of time so if you are looking for an RSS feed of constant news, keep looking. I would love to meet this group at a pub for a few dozen pints.
A good blend of social commentary and what’s happening in WoW. This team of Medros and Graece provide recent news updates and how it will affect their gaming, hence our gaming. It’s a very casual crew that may not provide real hard core info but gives people a glimpse into the hosts’ lives on the Horde.
These two guys are the yin and yang of competitive and compassionate. Nate Arizona and Galatix cover the range of happenings of their guild on the Proudmoore server. Some weeks the Alliance guild runs end game raids and the guys are abuzz about phat lewt, while other weeks guild drama brings a more reality show feel to the table. Some shows are definitely more action packed than others, but always worth checking in on this sometimes quite explicit show.
The team of Gnomewise, Grail, Gwenora and Iolite bring a full contingent of people to the podcast. One of the better group settings, the hosts play well off of each other and provide banter that seems natural. As the name implies, the group discusses their trials and tribulations of hardcore players without a lot of the raiding variety.
Total Biscuit is the man behind the machine that is WoWRadio. Love him or not, he does have that cool English accent and pulls no punches. His attitude has run off some good people (in my opinion) but the show must go on. The show is still finding its legs but TB is a good listen and brings a point of view that others may not have reported.
The redneck raiders, Matt, Justin and Jeremy discuss news, guild drama, and all kinds of tangents. These long podcasts can wander for periods of time, but I can imagine myself hanging at the corner bar enjoying Pabst Blue Ribbon with these guys. Another explicit show that has earned its title.
One of The Instance spin-offs, this one has kept at it and continues to provide good content – case in point; their on-site reporter at Blizzcon got a tour of Blizzard headquarters. The hosts are a random mix of New York, England and middle-America, but it works. Not a show for breaking news, but check it out and determine for yourself.
How I WoW (It’s WoW-related, kind of)
Patrick Beja has earned quite a name for himself in the podcasting community. Starting with his own show in France, he contributes regularly to The Instance and WoW Insider among others. How I WoW is an off-shoot podcast with his real life pastor co-host and they chat with people about their lives, gaming and of course WoW. Some of the interviews have been good and some are great. I don’t catch this one right off the press but I typically come back and catch up. Breaking news…Patrick has been hired by Blizzard (in France) so How I WoW will no longer be in production. The episodes are fairly timeless though so review the guests and download a few to enjoy.
Farewell and Parting
There are a couple of WoW podcasts that I will really miss. Epic Dolls just recently faded, but was a very good show. I enjoyed it mostly because it was hosted by two women who knew their *stuff* yet didn’t pull off that “more L33t than you” vibe. On the other side of the coin is The Ready Check that just went dark. The Ready Check was the most unapologetically elitist group I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. They cleared every part of the game, worked on hard modes and brought on top guilds for interviews. They were crass, rude and fun as hell.
MMO but Non-WoW Specific Podcasts (worthy of mention)
In addition to WoW podcasts, there are some others that should be on you radar. VirginWorlds is probably the original MMO newscast with Brent as the host. Most other podcasters (if not everyone on this list) either got their ideas to podcast from Brent or have enjoyed some success due in part to Brent’s efforts on VirginWorlds. It’s unfortunate that Brent himself has podfaded from view, but he continues to promote podcasts through his PodCast Collective.
Speaking of the Collective, No Prisoners, No Mercy is a great listen if you want to hear two quasi MMO-nuns go after developers and players alike with their “Mad as Hell and We’re Not Going To Take It” segment. Heck they’ve had interviews with Scott Hartsman and Paul Barnett for crying out loud!
Another collective contributor is the Van Hemlock podcast. Van Hemlock and his co-host Sean discuss the latest happenings in the MMO marketsphere. With their own spin on everything, this podcast is another one I enjoy quite a bit. Both hosts are long-time EVE players so expect to hear some information on that subject. I don’t play EVE and I still enjoy those segments.
So Many Shows, So Little Time
Be happy if you don’t have enough time to listen to all of the above, it would mean 15 or so hours a week in the car. Lucky me, I can usually get through a lot of them during any given week. Critical point about podcasts – we all have bad days. Podcasters are no different so give a show two to three episodes to catch your ear before you unsubscribe. Don’t base your whole decision on a few minutes of one show. Try out a couple of the ones listed above and then find your own groove. Report back and let me know which ones catch your attention; I’m always on the lookout for new ones.