The Road Less Traveled: Friendly Indie Podcasts We Love

by Chris Brown

When my wife and I were thinking about starting a podcast together we knew when we decided upon calling ourselves The Married Gamers that the title might hinder reaching potential subscribers who were single. We stuck with The Married Gamers and now after 100 episodes, we are closing in on two years of delivering video games news & reviews from a married couple’s perspective.

It’s true that the majority of our listeners are married or couples living together, but now I wear that once-imagined detriment as a badge of pride. Our community is unique to a lot of other video game communities. It’s not hyperbole when I mention that our community is the most friendly, most gung-ho gaming community on the internet. For a non-gender specific website we have a good and growing percentage of active female community members. We have a listener and forum community that draws from several different races, creeds, and sexual preferences. The Married Gamers has become a place that I am proud to be part of and it makes me so very happy to be a part of this robust community…but it’s not the only community I belong to.

The Married Gamers are members of Platform Nation. It’s a network of podcasts who have come together to have a greater voice in the community and share resources with one another. I am a big fan of many of the podcasts that make up Platform Nation, but we are very different from most of the shows on the network. We try, as much as we can, to run a fairly clean ship, to talk about topics that shy away from a “men’s locker room” or bawdy humor. That’s not an indictment of the other podcasts that make up Platform Nation, it’s just that we’re taking a different route and wanted to develop a rare voice in the larger video game podcast community.

For a long while it felt like we were alone in the tenor of our voice but I am very happy that other websites and podcasts also offer content that have their own distinct voice. Their podcasts offer an alternative to the preponderance of podcasts that turns some listeners off because of their strong language, sexual references, or making women or minorities feel unwelcome. There are a great many podcast that I absolute love, who also use language and work “blue”, but I wanted to highlight a few podcasts that have taken another road less traveled in Independent video game podcasting:

+ Gamer Husbands Radio Gamerhusbands Radio are four lifelong friends (Alfred, Scott, Allen, and Sam) who have a nice mix, cover news that often with a different take than other news-oriented podcasts, and is playful as well. Their site also has a growing forum section. They usually have a longer runtime than most podcasts, but their content has been compelling and I really do enjoy how they can take a subject and dissect it in an easy to follow way.

+ Gamers With Kids Gamers With Kids is a newish podcast from a married couple from the South. TheLordPhantom and Lady Sedetha take a more laid back tact with their podcast. Gamers With Kids is often a How-To and confessional of how a couple can lead a life of a gamer while raising several kids. The two hosts are congenial, communicate well together, and are this early stage in their podcast are still finding their stride. Each episode is getting better and better and I am on board to see where this podcast goes. What I really love about this podcast is how the humor and their joy seems so genuine and infectious. At this time they don’t have a website, but can be found on MySpace and on Facebook.

+ Target Demographic Much like GamerHusbands Radio, the Target Demographic are four friends (Bryan, Jonathan, Wayne, and Matt), three of them are married, who cover movies, television, video games, and music. The segments are well-defined and are easy to pick up on. They self-sensor themselves for any random bits of language. The Target Demographic are very funny. One of the keys to their success is that each host has such a distinct personality it is quite easy to pick up on who is talking. Besides their regular segments, they also have a main topic which thus far has been engaging. Their episodes typically run about 90 minutes, but the times flies by because I find myself actively and fully listening to what they have to say. While video games has become their main focus, they cover most media because they fall under a marketer’s target demographic.

+ Talking About Games Talking About Games outdo what many huge corporate sites can do in terms of creating a huge, largely respectful community and covering gaming news better than most of those large sites. Talking About Games has three, and soon to be four podcasts: Uncle Gamer, Remember When, and the community-oriented Post Game Report. All three podcasts self-sensor themselves and often run over 90 minutes. Uncle Gamer is their video game only podcast with three hosts: Jay, Parris, and Larry. The three hosts are distinct in their personalities, and have very well-stated likes and dislikes in gaming. The hosts love to engage and debate one other over various topics. Sometimes the topical debates get heated, but they never devolve into name-calling and the hosts always remain respectful and amiable towards one another. Uncle Gamer is mostly video game news driven, and they cover the news with flair and pastiche. Remember When is hosted by Jay and Parris and is more media driven. They often talk about movies, but also cover other media such as cartoons, toys, or television. Remember When succeeds where other podcasts fail in that the topic feels well-researched, the episode feels well planned, and should a difference in opinion arise both sides make valid arguments (and I have to say part of the fun is finding which side of the argument I as the listener find myself on). The third podcast, Post Game Report, is Talking About Games community-orientated. The podcast has hosts (Jose, Marcus, and Luis) and then adds a member from the forums. Post Game Report is mostly game news driven but also will choose a topic to expand on.

+ Co-Optimus Co-Optimus is a website that is focused on co-op gaming. The website offers some very good game news coverage, and really hones in on games that do offer multiplayer or co-op gaming. In addition, Co-Optimus has a searchable database of games that offer a co-op experience. Co-Optimus also has a podcast named the Co-Opticast which is hosted by Nick and Mike. The hosts self-censor themselves and a typical episode runs about 45 minutes. In keeping with the website, the podcast is very co-op gaming centric but like any good gamer also talk about what else may be happening in gaming. The real strength of the podcast is the host’s razor-sharp knowledge of video games and their history. The podcast is one of the most informative that I listen to but their hosts personalities and eccentricities make it one of my favorites.

I’m happy that Independent video game podcasting offers a myriad of interesting voices that both entertain and inform. Nearly all of these podcast hardly make anything doing what they love, but yet they so often offer me a more fulfilling listen. I highly recommend any of these podcasts and respect how they make a purposeful choice to avoid colorful language and be respectful to their listeners.

+ What They Play While What They Play isn’t exactly an Indie podcast or website, I do want to include them here because they are one of the most important gaming websites for a great majority of folks…even if those folks may not be aware of them. What They Play covers family gaming. The website has excellent reviews that covers all the major points to a game so that parents, grandparents, or friends can know what exactly is in the game, if the game is worthwhile or well-made, and if the game has any objectionable material. The heart to the focus on family gaming is that the writers maintain a firm commitment to rational review standards. They look at games from E for Everyone to Mature Rated and even-handedly reviews them on their merits. What They Play also has a podcast hosted by John and Tom. Much like the website, the podcast has that fair and balanced review of games that performs an excellent job and inform and engaging the listener. The podcast is clean and the episodes typically run between 45 minutes to an hour. They cover many games that other sites don’t including Wii “shovelware” and kid-marketed games. While the podcast may not intentionally go for broke with the humor they are entertaining and their years in games journalism pay off in spades with in-depth reviews that empower the listener as to whether or not a game is appropriate or simply worth a person’s time.

Next time, I’ll dive into those great podcasts that may swear, drink, and work “blue” but I can’t help but love.

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