Dead As A Brodeo: GFW Radio Ends

By Kieron Gillen on September 20th, 2008 at 1:00 pm.

The PC Podcast masses are crying out in despair: their leaders have left them. The much-respected GFW Radio has decided to close its doors with the final episode. After lynchpin Jeff Green leaves journalism for development at Maxis, Shawn Elliot has sodded off to 2k Boston Irrational. The episodes are all up still up if you want to catch up, but there’s a “best of” compilation over here.

And some thoughts about it from someone who’s never listened until literally right now beneath the cut…

A number of people have asked us to post about this, and I held off for reasons the top-image makes kinda clear. While I’ve followed the debates and adulation that the GFW podcast has recieved with interest, I’ve never actually sat down and listened. As I’m doing the post, I’m doing that for the first time. I’m actually surprised that I’m not surprised – it’s exactly what I’d thought it’d be, and can see exactly why people dug it so much.

I also see why I don’t listen to it. If I want to hear people talk smartly and funnily about videogames, I’m lucky enough to be able to talk to one of the RPS guys. This is the sort of dialogue which is my natural environment, so I don’t need to go to a podcast to get it.

Listening more though… well, it’s interesting to come on the Final Episode of something that’s most loved. Like most sitcoms, the final episode tends to be self-congratulatory… and justifiably so. There’s a lot of how that despite the podcast having far less listeners than the magazine ever had, they get far more contact from it. People felt a genuine human connection, and expressed deeply personal stuff to them.

Which I find fascinating, really – because pretty much since I started writing for the British press, that’s been a constant. And not just me – it was just a common thing for people to invest and open up to the writers. Which makes me suspect an old theory I had actually was built around a kernel of truth: podcasts have allowed the American games writers to get used to the concept of microcelebrity, which had always previously been a Brit thing for games journalists. British magazines, traditionally, have been far more personal (cf: unprofessional, if you’re someone who dislikes the style) than the US ones. Conversely, the podcasts are a beacon of humanity – and for the first time, it seems, the Americans are experiencing what we’ve had all along. The listeners buy into the humanity; the writers realise that they’re actually connecting with people.

All of which makes me think the growth of US podcasts is another enormously positive force in the discussion of the form. And I have to salute GFW Radio for pushing it. Well done yous.

To throw it to the floor, a couple of questions:

1) You’re a podcast listener. What’s the best PC related podcast available? Why would you recommend it?

2) If you had to construct a dream podcast, what would it be like? What would it include?

, .

72 Comments »

  1. Kieron Gillen says:

    Kadayi: The point isn’t the actual nature of in the insights, but the process thereof – being actually involved in an intense debate about games with people exchanging ideas is just more fun than listening to someone else doing so. Given the choice between listening to a gaming podcast and picking up the phone and bullshitting with Rossignol or whoever about what we’ve just been playing, I’d choose the latter.

    The first metaphor that comes to mind is unsavoury: It’s the difference between watching porn and fucking. Watching porn is great! But if you had a porn star in the next room, you’re going to go and do them. It doesn’t matter if the porn actually features a better star who’s much better than you or not.

    I’m really sorry it came across as disrespectful, as it absolutely wasn’t the intent. What they’ve achieved is sterling and worthy of applause, which is why I wrote the post in the first place.

    KG

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    That’s pretty much how I feel about podcasts: I’d rather be involved in the conversation. Interactive is better than passive for me.

    Not that we’d be any good at it – I have a load of respect for people who can make it work.

  3. chris hyde says:

    Kieron Gillen: If I were to extend your metaphor, then I guess I’d say the point from this corner is that not all of us live on the set of a porn shoot like you apparently do. Some of us just need to go through our humdrum lives and get by with average ol’ normal sex but maybe we’d occasionally like to see how the other half performs.

    If all you want and need is those intellectual conversations that occur on a personal level in your own club, then that’s fair enough. You don’t need to listen to other people’s podcasts, and I think that’s totally fine for you. Personally for me, I don’t really have the option to just call Jim Rossignol + so I love to hear what other smart people have to say about this sort of stuff in an audio form, and it seems from the above thread that there are others who share that feeling. I think it’d be of great benefit to games in general if some semblance of those sort of RPS discussions could make it out into the world in a podcast form. I sure understand if you don’t have the time nor the inclination to do so, but I think there does at least exist a desire for that kind of podcast out here in the wild for those of us without instant access to the sort of rarefied conversation that you have.

  4. Kadayi says:

    @ Keiron

    You’re reasonably smart and you’ve become a fixture in the British gaming scene. The notion that you’d turn into an inarticulate wreck at the flick of a microphone switch I can’t quite envisage. Made a podcast in a comfortable environment and see how it goes.

  5. Tim says:

    Greatest gaming podcast? The PCG (UK) one, of course. Once a month is a long wait, but perhaps it means the quality isn’t diluted..

  6. Ginger Yellow says:

    If nothing else, it would keep me in touch with RPS when I’m on the move. The site crashes my mobile’s browser.

  7. Gremlin says:

    Shawn – I wasn’t talking about them in particular, but nevertheless you should check what they said about Games for Windows Live, the X million Sims 2 expansions, that History Channel FPS… and I think that ignoring new releases in favour of talking about Lost counts as being dismissive. The positive stuff could have been said elsewhere, the negative could not have been.

  8. Freakzoid says:

    Shawn Elliott – The Whiskey Nerd Chronicles

    http://img212.imageshack.us/my.php?image=elliott2wi4.png

  9. A-Scale says:

    I enjoy the PC Gamer Podcast http://www.pcgamerpodcast.com/
    And I adore the Giant Bombcast http://www.giantbomb.com/

    If you havent listened to the Giant Bombcast, you really owe it to yourself to do so.

  10. Kieron Gillen says:

    Er… that second Kieron Gillen was actually Jim. I was posting on his machine just before him.

    Kadayi: “The notion that you’d turn into an inarticulate wreck at the flick of a microphone switch I can’t quite envisage. ” You’d be surprised.

    More seriously, it’s certainly on our list of things we’d like to do eventually, as we say when anyone asks us about it. We suspect our idiom will be the biggest problem – I speak hyperfast in a Midlands accent, and am unintelligible to a load of Americans.

    Chris: Yeah – I get that totally. Which is why I was only talking about me, and realise how lucky I am to have porn stars next door.

    KG

  11. JonFitt says:

    GFW will be missed. Although they would go for weeks sometimes without talking about PC games!
    I listen to PCG regularly and it’s always worth the listen.
    I don’t know why I still have 1up yours subscribed, I detest NPD discussions, and now Shane and Garnett are on their own there’s no one to stop them in check.
    I’ll look out for the PCGUK podcast. They weren’t doing one when I selected my regular podcasts.

  12. Optimaximal says:

    I’ve never latched onto podcasts for the same reason I’m becoming disillusioned with print mags – I’m a very internet-savy person and whatever arrives in podcast/mag form just reads like a ‘best-of’ the week/month prior.
    I still sub PCZone (although they’re losing staff members like a sinking ship), but nearly every single news article, preview and review is old news too me before the mag even goes to print, whereas a podcast is usually just some (as pointed out early) jockular ‘internet celebrity’ chasing his next pile of kudos by offering 5 seconds of opinion on Red Alert 3 4 days after I read 3-4 articles from various sources.

  13. Larington says:

    Hmm, you could do a trial RPS podcast verdict and field opinions on how well it did/didn’t work, and either drop the idea or adjust the approach as needed… Though I’m sure this has already occured to you all.

    Or secretly record one of those phone conversations without the other one kno… Actually that’d kinda of represent a breach of trust, wouldn’t it.

    I’ve never really bothered with podcasts myself to be honest, I tend to prefer the written word, comments section or web articles or whatever, less chance of misunderstanding and a “what did he just say”, though I suppose audio chatter has better opportunities for comic timing.

    And you’d need to give listeners a warning in advance if plans were afoot to use phrases like “Tea and masturbation”… (Never before in my life would I have ever expected to type that last sentence!)

  14. Kadayi says:

    @Optimaximal

    You do realise the GFW podcast was produced by the guys who wrote and produced GFW/CGW magazine, and not a bunch of ‘internet celebrities’? The sort of people who write about and review games professionally (just like the RPS guys), and get to see all the cool shit way before anyone else does, and were highly respected in their field? And that they’d use the podcast to discuss games they’d seen in preview, or were playing for review at length and not in some soundbyte manner? Or would have developer guests in like Ken levine, Warren Spector, Rod Humble to talk to at length? You were aware of all of this before you decided to sally forth and tell us all about how savvy you were, yes? Because there would be nothing more embarrassing in my view than coming off like you didn’t know the subject at all when offering up pearls of wisdom on it.

  15. Steve says:

    97.5 The Brodeo is probably the best PC gaming podcast out there. I’ve tried to listen to other pc podcast in the past and none of them work for me.

  16. Andrew says:

    “Which makes me suspect an old theory I had actually was built around a kernel of truth: podcasts have allowed the American games writers to get used to the concept of microcelebrity, which had always previously been a Brit thing for games journalists. British magazines, traditionally, have been far more personal (cf: unprofessional, if you’re someone who dislikes the style) than the US ones. Conversely, the podcasts are a beacon of humanity – and for the first time, it seems, the Americans are experiencing what we’ve had all along. The listeners buy into the humanity; the writers realise that they’re actually connecting with people.”

    Yet it seems to me that 1UP has perhaps constructed too much of it’s personality around this concept of microcelebrity, hence the current furore about the departure of Jeff Green and Shawn Elliot.

    Whilst I know that Eurogamer, PCG:UK and EDGE feature certain writers and opinions, including members of RPS, all those appear to come secondary to the respective brand. EDGE of course takes this to the extreme with it’s lack of a byline, but I don’t think I’ve noticed a huge editorial shift with the various changes in Editor over the recent years.

  17. Meeky says:

    Podcasts are like sitcoms.

  18. Nahual says:

    I also listened to GFW since it started, and i do think it was the best gaming podcast around, PC centered or not, it was both incredibly funny and intelligent, never tried to cover a list of subjects like top 10′s or new releases, instead focusing on two or three games, whether they were big AAA titles or not, (they had this really great chat about Blacksite Area 51 where they did a great, long and very funny dissection on what that game did right and wrong, but ultimately it sucked, then Jeff turns to Shawn, and goes “Why are we talking about this so much anyway” “Well, because it’s a PC game we’ve been playing and this is a PC gaming podcast”).

    I’m really going to miss it, it was a fixture in my week.

    I do look forward to PC Gamer, I’ve always enjoyed it, it is indeed a more “by the numbers” podcast and not as funny, but it is more informative in general than GFW was, covering more ground in each episode, and also very friendly and easy to listen to. Game Theory is also great, it combines news with commentary nicely but it’s more console focused, and there are a lot of podcast’s like that around. The PC Gamer UK podcast i’ve listened to and found it was good, but the fact is they are very irregular and i soon forget their existence and by the time i get around to check a new episode they’re all disembodied voices i can’t relate a personality to like i’m listening for the first time.

    Right now i do think RPS is the only possible source for a podcast that could fill the void left by GFW Radio, reading you guys is the closest equivalent there was to listening to them when it comes to PC content. Cause, I’ve gotta be honest here, while it’s easy to talk console games in a PC centric Podcast, it seems like it’s impossible to talk PC games in a console centric podcast cause 2/3′s of the hosts barely know how to turn a pc on.

  19. Lorigga says:

    I’m going to miss GFW. I’ve been listening for the past two years and must say it has been my favorite podcast. The mixture of personalities made for a wonderful listening experience. I’ve laughed a lot at work because of that podcast…half the time they weren’t even really talking about games and just goofing off…which is what MADE the podcast for me.

    Here’s one for the homies…
    /pour tea on ground

  20. Rob Finney says:

    Yeah loosing the Brodeo is a big loss. What about others though?
    one life left – http://www.onelifeleft.com
    super happy funtime show – http://www.kropotkin.co.uk/

    It’s a shame there aren’t a lot more British podcasts beyond Kropotkin’s work and PCG UK – maybe RPS could do some???

  21. JTIMM says:

    Hmm… This is the first thing I’ve ever read from you, but I recall Shawn Elliot mentioning you. I’d like to hear a podcast from you guys.

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