I’m a podcast addict. There. I’ve said it so now I can work on getting better, or do I. Podcast’s are my way of entertaining myself at work while getting the low down on what’s hip in the gaming scene and industry. I’m a custodian by day and the job isn’t all that much fun. In fact it’s pretty boring. Without my Ipod nano I got from my brother and his fiancee a few years ago for Christmas I think I’d have gone crazy by now. (Thanks for saving my sanity Ed and Amanda) With it I’m just about as happy as one could be; cheerful to all the teachers, administrators, and staff I work around, and general pleasure to my two co-workers and boss. It’s because I can engage in listening to what’s up with my favorite hobby while making money. I feel a little guilty since I believe I listen to more podcast’s than a lot of other people. To get rid of my guilt I thought I’d write a little about my favorites, what they’re about, where you can find them, and what their formats are like. I suppose you can call them reviews. Today I’ll start with The Bear Swarm.
The Bear Swarm Podcast is an Explicit Geek Podcast or so says the header on their website Bearswarm.com. The title is telling the truth. Rob Justice (badass name) and Mike are the two regulars who drive the show, Rob does all of the editing, which isn’t much according to him, with a sort of rotating 3rd and sometimes 4th chair. I haven’t been listening since the beginning but the two most current 3rd and 4th hosts are Artemis and Darryl.
The best thing about all the hosts is they don’t take themselves to seriously and they could care less what people think about them. Because of these two factors the show comes off sounding honest. Just guys giving opinions and they’re not so stubborn to admit they’re wrong about something. They hate being wrong but if they are any of the hosts will man up and own it. A perfect example was their opinion of Cortex, by Margret Weis Productions. They felt the Supernatural and Serenity games were piles of crap. I think they’re right personally but when Smallville came out they piled on it as more of the same and not being interested until Cam Banks, designer of Smallville and Cortex+, sent them a demo copy. They did their homework, read the game, and publicly said they were wrong. Now they’re big Cortex+ supporters even using the Smallville engine for a Gotham Nights campaign and spin off campaign called Gotham days.
Did I mention they’re hilarious. Rob is a dick. Because he doesn’t care what people think about him his social filter doesn’t exist so some of the stuff he says is just plain insensitive, but frickin hilarious. Opposite him is Mike the cynic. His dry no nonsense attitude in the middle of a show of insanely inappropriate comments makes you feel sorry for the guy and laugh whenever he sighs at something Rob or Darryl throws out there. Artemis is great for adding in one liners and Darryl is like a the Bear Swarms personal fool. This guy just leaves himself so wide open all the time for Mike and Rob to blast him. While he’s taking dig after dig he just keeps opening his mouth and digging himself deeper and deeper holes. Fortunately these guys all get along and no one’s feelings get hurt. It’s like hanging out with the guys on Saturday playing video games with your boys and rippin on each other because you’re all bro’s. The thing is your bro’s probably aren’t as smart as these guys.
The Bear Swarm knows gaming. You might not agree with everything they say or even be offended at some of the words coming out of Rob’s mouth but these guys understand games and how to tell stories. Check out a Wrestlecast and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. If the WWE was smart they’d hire them to help write their shows. If wrestling isn’t your thing episode 184 was about linear endings and how they aren’t the devil and 190 was a nice advice piece on how to start a narrative game. They’re also some of the biggest John Wick supporters out there (Rob has a Houses of the Blooded Tattoo) and game designer John Wick is a pretty good friend of theirs. They met because of the podcast. I actually remembered when it was more of an idolization but now Rob, Mike, and Art watch wrestling with John over skype, it’s kinda cute, in a geeky way.
The wrestlecast is a newer addition to the podcast format but a standard show goes something like this. Intro with a little banter, maybe some reader responses, a topic, and then shout outs. Nice and simple but with a whole lot of fun and some good information. Some of the most popular and interesting episodes have been giving the listeners a campaign frame. Check out episodes 190: To Slay a Dragon and 196: The Monster’s Rights Movement for their most recent foray into campaign frames. If RPG’s aren’t your thing there’s still something for you. Artemis always has great suggestions for books, and they’re all into video games. The shout out’s are about things they’re into at the moment like TV shows and whatever fun or interesting thing they’re individually doing at the moment.
Check out an episode. The sound quality is very good and the content is great for a geek.
Chris “The Light” Sniezak