Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Best Podcast commentary

So, how do you judge a podcast?

That question came up pretty early in the deliberations. This is a brand-new category after all. One that didn't even exist until a good ways into the judging process.

I never asked, but I suspect that I may have been the only judge who listened to podcasts before I asked that the category be introduced. That probably made it a bit of an uphill battle for some of the judges. The time commitment involved here was huge. I was already in the process of catching up on several podcasts, and even still I was working on listening to them right up to the very end. There were 23 of these, and some have 100+ hours of content.

Not that it was unpleasant, mind you, it was just long.

So, how do you judge a podcast? Well, I think it starts with defining the things that make a podcast useful and enjoyable. Things like production values, value/utility of content, and sense of humor are very important here. It's a lot more like judging a fansite or art than the usual game book.

Still, there are no real guidelines here, and so we had to work it out as we went. If I do this again next year I think I'll ask the podcasters and their community what it is that's important to them.

Anywho, from here it was a matter of trying to find which shows best embody these traits. I tried to nominate a number of different shows, each strong in their own way. Fear the Boot for example has incredible production values, and is a heck of a lot of fun to listen to, while Sons of Kryos has some of the best gaming advice I've ever heard. I mentioned in an earlier post how much I enjoy the reviews Have Games, Will travel, and particularly how the very thorough early ones are directly responsible for selling me on a number of games, and helped to secure my support for a couple of nominees.

There are shows that didn't make it here that certainly had a place. Gamer the Podcasting didn't enter, but I always assumed they would have gotten my vote as well. Also, Dragon's Landing, which has been a center of the community didn't quite make it, which disappoints me a little. The list goes on and on.

Still, here more than anywhere I have no one to blame but myself. The other judges knew this was my baby, and they really stepped back and supported my choices. Four out of the top six are on the list directly because of my votes, so if you're unhappy with the choices, it's my fault.

I wonder if I can talk the board into asking Mick Bradley to present the award. From the outside looking in it seems that, if the podcasting community has a heart, it's that man, and I know he could entertain the crowd.

Anywho, I guess that's about all there is here. If anyone has any questions please leave a comment and I'll get back to you as soon as I'm able. Also let me know what you think of these commentaries before I waste too much time writing things no one is reading.


Paul Tevis said...

I'm curious to know what range of dates you listened to epsiodes from. Was it just 2006? Current shows? Something else?

Unknown said...

Whenever possible I listened to every episode. As time ran short I limited myself to only episodes that were eligible for awards (May 1, 2006 to April 30, 2007) to save on time, but I have heard the entirety of most shows, and am going back to catch up on the ones I had to skip.

For your show I have heard everything up through your discussion on Terroir, but I'll listen to the most recent show on my way into work tonight.

That reminds me. Who actually killed the wife? I don't think it was ever mentioned in the show, and if it was I must have missed it.

Paul Tevis said...

Wow. As Kipling said, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

Steve (Ted's character) did it. With his mother-in-law's help.

Unknown said...

I think asking Mick is a great idea.

And thanks for your hard work on this fledgling field.

Unknown said...

Thanks for helping us get it together Jeramy, and thanks for turning this into a new category!

Anonymous said...

This category was really tough for me because I've done a lot of radio in my life but knew nothing of the podcasting medium. So I spent most of my judging time in a state of shock about the different standards between radio broadcast media and podcasting.

I'm afraid the low production values really got in the way for me. And it was tough to focus on the contents. I feel like Podcasting is at a stage that PDF publishing was at a decade ago.

Paul Tevis said...

You hit on a key issue within podcasting. Some podcasters want to sound like radio, because they want to capitalize on radio's legitimacy. Some people explicitly don't want to, embracing an explicitly more handcrafted aesthetic. The problem with the former is that it takes a lot of time (and potentially money). The problem with the later is that it can turn off potential listeners, such as yourself.

Game podcasting is just over two years old, and it's been fascinating to watch the evolution. I'll be very curious to see what the next year brings.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. I don't want to sound insulting or dismissive. I just thought I'd be really up front about what my personal challenge was with the podcasts, as Jeramy alluded to the fact that he and Liz were really the only panelists to really master this category.

On the plus side, I think my interest in doing my own RPG podcast next year has been piqued. Podcasting would really play to my strength and I will now be a lot less intimidated by my limited mastery of my computer's sound features.

Paul Tevis said...

Awesome. The cool thing (for me, at least) is how low the barrier to entry really is in podcasting. I mean, I'm a guy who listened to a podcast or two and said, "I can do that" and two years later I'm up for an ENnie.

Paul Tevis said...

Oh, and Jeramy, if you do get Mick to do the presentation, that would be totally awesome.

Unknown said...

Presenters are not my call, but I'll gladly put him forward. I don't think there's anyone else who so visibly works to promote unity withing the RPG podcasting community. That man is everywhere.