When it comes to information about video games, there are only a few ways in which we tend to consume it. There is the text-based article, which is how we often read reviews and find out current news, there are forums like Reddit and NeoGAF, where we learn stuff from our fellow gamers, there are videos on sites like Twitch and YouTube, and there’s my personal favorite, the humble podcast.
Video games were one of the first mediums to go all in on podcasts, with shows like 1UP Yours filling gamers’ ears with in-depth analysis on the world of games in a way that an article just never could.
Podcasts have taken video game writers and given them a personality. After all, a monotone voice speaking into a microphone telling you about games isn’t enjoyable. You want information, but you also want to be entertained. It’s with that in mind that we take a look at the best gaming podcasts out there right now. For entertainment and information, the shows below rule the roost!
When it comes to blending video game information with entertainment, there is no one that does it better than Giant Bomb. If you frequent the site to check out their Quick Looks of video games without checking out the weekly podcast, you are missing out.
These pods feature detailed breakdowns of the games each of the personalities have been playing, news, and odd emails from readers that always lead Dan Ryckert, Brad Shoemaker, Jeff Gerstmann, and Drew Scanlon down some fascinating, and oftentimes strange, avenues of discussion.
The Giant Bombcast does tend to be a little on the long side, so those who want a bite-sized podcast might be scared off by the 3-hours-plus episodes each week, but once you start listening, you’ll realize that this podcast is so good that you’ll wish it was longer. From a sound quality, entertainment, and breadth of information perspective, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a show better than The Giant Bombcast.
Sadly, Vinny Caravella, one of the key members of the Giant Bomb team, relocated to New York recently, leaving a man-shaped hole on the main Bombcast. Finally, he and other New York-based staff members started The Giant Beastcast (the name being short for Giant Bomb East).
They then picked up video game intellectual and soon-to-be doctorate degree-toting Austin Walker to bring a level of more intelligent discussion to the show. There’s also a “rotating” fourth spot that has so far been filled every week by CNET’s Jeff Bakalar.
While The Giant Bombcast can be serious from time-to-time, this one ups the anti with some actual deep conversations on the world of games, while still keeping the Giant Bomb feel that fans expect. I was reluctant to include two podcasts from the same site, but seeing as they are very different, and that they both top the iTunes Podcast charts week in, week out, I just had to give both their moment in the sun.
The Giant Beastcast is still early in its run, so you can actually get in towards the beginning, which is rare with most great podcasts having been running for years.
RebelFM was started as part of 1UP when some of the younger staff members decided to make their own show to go out alongside video game podcast stable 1UP Yours. In spite of 1UP as we knew it shutting down long ago, the crew, now spread throughout the gaming industry, has kept going with a fantastic show. You’ll recognize names like Anthony Gallegos, Arthur Gies, Matt Chandronait, and Mitch Dyer as being industry vets, and their gaming knowledge and varied perspectives shine through on the podcast.
The show tends to follow a fairly standard structure with them talking about the games they’ve been playing, news from the gaming world, and listener comments, but it works well, and is always entertaining. The only complaint some have is that, since most of them play the game regularly, Dota 2 comes up in conversation a lot, but even if you don’t like Dota, the rest of the show is so good that it gets a pass.
Cheapy D, Wombat, and Shipwreck may not be affiliated with any major gaming sites, but their podcast, known as the CAGcast, has outlasted almost every other show on the Internet. Long after the crew from GameSpot moved on to start Giant Bomb, and after the 1UP crew moved to (and then ended) Weekend Confirmed, the official podcast of Cheap Ass Gamer has prevailed, continuing to bring its own brand of personality to the show each and every week. As of this writing, the CAGcast has already sailed past 400 episodes, and it shows no sign of stopping.
In spite of being from a website specializing in video game deals, the CAGcast only talks about deals occasionally. Instead, the crew focuses on talking about games while being incredibly humorous (mostly at the expense of Wombat). Combine that with the absolutely absurd level of knowledge offered by Shipwreck and the hosting skills of Cheapy D, and you have a show that is not to be missed when it comes out each week.
Like the CAGcast, this independent podcast has outlasted all of the big guys (it was on our original list of video game podcasts years ago). It was started 9 years ago, when podcasts were a fairly new format, but this show has kept going, and with good reason, because it’s a truly enjoyable show. Each week they talk about the games they’ve been playing, and they dig into a specific topic from the world of games.
What makes this podcast stand out from the crowd, aside from the fact that it has been around for forever, comes from the “With Jobs” portion of the title. This podcast is aimed at adults. No, I’m not talking about the use of vulgar language, because The Giant Bombcast has enough of that for everyone. I mean the discussions are mature and not aimed at the teenagers of the gaming world. There’s still a little bit of humor sprinkled in, but it’s not the focus as it is in some other shows.
When Patrick Klepik left Giant Bomb for Kotaku, we thought it might be the end of his podcasting days, as his Bombin’ the AM show would no longer be running. But he’s back with a new show called the Match 3 Podcast, and it’s already getting rave reviews. It throws away your standard video game podcast discussion flow, instead opting to dig deep into the cultural context of games. It’s a very different type of podcast than the others on the list, but definitely worth checking out.
I will fully admit, though, that this show isn’t for everyone. Some people don’t take games so seriously, and they just wanna hear people talk about the games they’ve been playing to help them decide if they should buy them. That’s fine, but before you completely write this one off, give at least one episode a chance, and you might just find that it makes you think about games in a way that you never thought possible.
When Garnett Lee left Weekend Confirmed to join Amazon Games, it left his co-host Jeff Cannata without a show. So what did Jeff do? He teamed up with his friend/co-host/enemy Christian Spicer and started DLC, a fantastic video game podcast. It features a story of the week segment where Jeff, Christian, and a rotating third guest (sometimes Garnett, which is always a treat) try to convince each other what the biggest story was in the world of games.
There’s also the standard segment in which they talk about the games they’ve been playing, and for fans of tabletop games, the show always ends with some board game talk. Thankfully, for people just in it for the video games, this segment is at the end, so you can always stop listening.
The friend/co-host/enemy thing is how Jeff introduces the show every week, and it really is true. Jeff is one of the most overwhelmingly positive people in video game media, and Christian, well, isn’t. The dynamic between the two of them makes for some fantastic discussions. You have the guy who loves everything, and the guy who is constantly and consistently mad at the world, along with a third guest who gets caught in the middle. Suffice to say, it’s highly entertaining.
Here we have another podcast from a member of the famous 1UP Yours crew; this time it’s Mark McDonald and his crew of gamers from Japan. When he left 1UP, Mark and the crew started 8-4, a company that does translations for games in Japan to bring them to the West.
With that, the team has tons of fascinating experiences from gaming in Japan. If you’re sick of hearing people talk about the same old games that we are used to in the West, this is the show for you, because much of the discussion is about Japanese games.
This show has a ton of personality, and like The Giant Bombcast, can tend to be a little on the long side with many episodes coming in at over two hours. It’s worth every minute though, because the entertainment value is high, and it’s a rare chance to get a look at the gaming culture in Japan from a crew of people that speak English.
“Welcome to the Co-Optional Podcast, we do occasionally talk about video games,” is how host TotalBiscuit starts off most episodes, and this tagline couldn’t be more true. He, Jessy Cox, and Dodger sit down with a guest from the YouTube community and just talk about games and whatever other tangent they feel like hitting.
This show really feels like a group of friends sitting down for a chat, and it’s highly entertaining as long as you go into it knowing not to expect as much structure as usual. Sure, they talk about games they have played, gaming news, and so on, but there are tangents all over the place. Episodes rarely come in under three hours long, but you’ll be laughing your way through the entirety of each one.
Aside from the traditional gaming talk, this show also delves into the life of a YouTuber, as all three of the regular hosts run successful channels, with TotalBiscuit being one of the best, and most informative people talking about and playing games on Google’s massive video service. It’s definitely worth a listen, but those who need more structure in their shows might be a little turned off by the tangents.
This is another newer podcast from the upstart Kinda Funny Games. Some of the most beloved members of IGN’s podcasting stable, namely Greg Miller and Colin Moriarty, started their own company with a daily show on Twitch and a weekly podcast called the Kinda Funny Gamescast. The same level of hilarious personality from the IGN days remain, and in some cases, is even ratcheted up.
Additionally, this show breaks the standard podcast structure, instead opting to dig into a topic from gaming each week. This makes for an interesting show where you can hear some fascinating takes on topics that go beyond a quick mention during a news section. Recent episodes have covered topics like SEGA, the top funny games of all time, some of the most unique games, the best games of the year so far, and so on.
Wave Goodbye to Your Free Time
With these 10 gaming podcasts, you’re looking at approximately 20 hours of audio gaming content each and every week. That’s a lot of video game news and opinions for your ears to absorb, but we promise you’ll love every second of it. No longer will you need to search for things to listen to while you work or exercise, because the wealth of video game podcasts on display here will keep you entertained throughout!
Do you want more? If so, feel free to check out myself, James Bruce, and Rachel Kaser (both fellow MakeUseOf writers) on our own gaming podcast called the Technophilia Gaming Podcast. Is it one of the 10 best gaming podcasts? Nope, but it just might crack the top 100 if we’re having a good day. Which we often do.
And now it’s over to you for your suggestions for gaming podcasts everybody needs to listen to. Did we miss any of your favorites? Do you record your own gaming podcast? Hit the comments section below and let us know. Or, take the opportunity to tell me how bad (or good) my taste in video game podcasts is! I won’t be offended. Much.