Playing by Ear

I picked up an iPod shuffle for me and wife last week as an early Valentine’s Day gift. They come in different colors now which is meaningless, but cool. I understand that some people are still annoyed by the lack of a display, but I’m old enough to still think that something the size of a piece of gum that plays music is pretty nifty. I’ve listened to the thing for hours now at the gym and during my lunch, and still haven’t listened to a bit of music on it. You see, I have rediscovered the podcast.

I remember being very excited about the idea of a podcast when they first started to become easily available. I’m a huge fan of spoken word programing and have a small, but respectable collection of radio dramas and readings, some of which include performances by myself. Long ago in the days of college radio, Gameguy could be heard on the airwaves, spinning actual records and reading actual poetry with all the wit and confidence of a young Anthony Bourdain, complaining about his soup.

Podcasting didn’t immediately appeal to me. There just didn’t seem to be enough out there. I could already hear most of what was available by listening to NPR, which I did and still do. I soon forgot about podcasting and went on about my non-podcasting business.

Once I picked up my iPod Shuffle, and hooked it up to iTunes; however, I discovered that podcasting had grown diverse and mighty, becoming a bloated giant, stumbling around, waiting for some innocent listener to be crushed by ninety minutes of smartly edited doggerel. Now this was something I wanted to explore. I figured there must be some truffles growing somewhere in all of this crap.

I cast my net wide at first, and pulled in everything that sounded interesting. Most of it was, in fact, crap; however, I did find a couple of gaming podcasts worth listening to on a regular basis.

  • The Dice Tower is a weekly podcast about tabletop games. This was one of the few gaming podcasts I found that had a good mix of humor and board game geek factor. The podcast has been around for some time now, and has quite a following. I’m starting to work my way backwards as I keep up with the current issue.
  • The Instance! is one of the many podcasts dedicated to folks who play World of Warcraft. This one sets itself apart from the others by offering actual information, amusing but tight audio, and by just not sucking in general. If you play WoW, you should give it a listen.

The next edition of the Game Carnival will be posted this week, and I continue to work at becoming unfunkified. Thank you to those friends near and far who have shown such great support.

4 thoughts on “Playing by Ear”

  1. Have you tried The Spiel ( It is by far my favorite gaming podcast. They are definitely game geeks, but they also appreciate that there are some decent games to be found at your local Toys R Us. As a new boardgamer, I find them much more accessible that most game podcasts and blogs.

  2. @Tim: No joke. You ARE great support!

    @Dani: I haven’t tried The Spiel, but I definitely will check it out. I do get tired of the “Oh that’s a game you can buy in a regular store so it must not be as cool as my mega-expensive German game about something very European and historically accurate” attitude that some of the uber-geeks have about gaming.

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