Musings of a Third Rate Podcaster
Nearly two years in, and I still don’t know quite how to feel or think about the Gamers With Jobs Conference Call podcast. More specifically I don’t know how I am supposed to feel about the podcast.
I have never really thought much about any kind of journalistic responsibility or audience obligation. Is it too blunt to say that it has been more recreation than activity for me, and that I approach it with a shocking lack of seriousness and intensity? When I read in e-mails, forum postings and comments abroad that analyze the production through all kinds of sensitive lenses, I am a little dumbstruck. Podcasting is to me an opportunity to talk games with my friends.
I figured that, outside of large-scale and professional productions, this was pretty much how everyone thought about it.
Truth be told, I feel totally self-serving even addressing publicly how I think about the show. I would love to feel like the gravity of what we do rises to the occasion of critical thought, journalistic integrity, serious contemplation or even casual mention, but the truth is that I remain unconvinced in any meaningful value of podcasting beyond basic entertainment. Is there something wrong with that?
I've begun to swing across the pendulum toward the idea that the whole subversive and independent gaming community is taking itself too seriously. I appreciate the interest in employing standards of excellence to opinion, but more and more the blogs I read and podcasts I listen to are coming off pretentious and self-involved.
Yes, I realize that I just called a kettle black inside a glass house. Very well, I contradict myself. At least I’ll have the Walt Whitman market cornered — a little joke for the lit-nerds in the audience.
As I write this, iTunes and its arcane methodology for relative podcast rankings seems to feel like we are the 11th most-something podcast about video games around. That’s … great? Tomorrow, maybe we’ll only be the 38th most-something podcast and that means … what? We have over *harrumph*-thousand listeners most weeks, honestly now largely exceeding the readership of the site itself, so I should be totally invested in the podcast as the flagship of our site, and yet I invest far more ownership in almost every word I’ve written in these columns than I do in most shows. That means I need to think or re-think … something?
I read posts about the show and e-mails to the show that we got this-or-that wrong in a recent conversation about the relative multiplayer aspect of Hyper Dust Bunny Powerfinger IV, and the truth is I find it hard to care. You get things wrong in conversations.
I read that we didn’t give such and such game, Monster Closet — Derelict Ship Edition, a fair shake and thus imparted some tragic disservice to our audience and I have no idea how to respond to that. Off the cuff opinions shouldn’t be held to a higher standard — isn’t there place for just having a discussion without being embroiled in a higher calling?
I hear that people can’t wait to hear what we have to say on a topic, and sometimes I feel strangely like I’ve let them down.
Do I have an obligation on the show that I need to take more seriously? Would I even want to do the show if I did? Should I be taking in the various and conflicting feedback I see from around the web and cobbling it into some shape to improve my performance or should I keep stubbornly and selfishly entertaining myself in the exercise even to the exclusion of others.
Podcasting is a totally different experience from being a writer. I feel far more exposed at any moment on the show than I do even writing on a very personal topic. As I’ve written this very piece, I’ve gone through it a few times moving paragraphs around, deleting entire sections, changing subtle and crucial phrases to inject hopefully the right tone to keep it all balanced. Regardless of how successful I am, this medium allows me to craft in a way that podcasting does not. To me, that's the glory of a recording. I love the flaws that it permits and even endorses in the same way that some people will choose to listen to records instead of CDs.
That’s the core of it, I suppose. I think the flaws and unscripted nature of the podcasting medium is what gives it merit. I don’t care about sometimes getting things wrong or striking a poor tone, because I think it gives listeners and myself a raw and more genuine experience in the long run, even if we have to go back later and publicly make a correction. Is that an excuse? Is that justification for not having to be responsible for being an idiot? Maybe, but it is one I’m comfortable with.
To be honest, I don’t think I’d want to do the show otherwise.