What Would You Like to See in a ‘The Border House’ Podcast?

A picture of a recording microphone with an over-zealous lens flare.

A picture of a recording microphone with an over-zealous lens flare.

Kind followers of The Border House (TBH), we have some exciting news! Writers of TBH are looking to create a regular series of podcasts that resonate with the topics and values this blog stands for. We plan further establishing a sense of community in game criticism that embraces diversity and includes those who are often marginalized by expanding the medium TBH can be experienced. Alongside the quality writing provided to you through the blog, relevant chats with regular members will be available to stream and download. Because this project is not just for the benefit of the writers, but also to provide more content for followers, we would like your input on some decisions that will affect production. All feedback, questions, concerns, and blurbs are appreciated, so feel encouraged to comment!

The first matter to tackle is figuring out what you all would like to hear in these talks; round-table discussions about recently released articles, discussion on current events in game criticism, game reviews/roasts? Knowing what would supplement the content already present is important so we can deliver new and exciting perspectives that have something else to offer. We want to talk about what you care about, but first, we need to find out what that is! Give us a run down or link us to other shows doing it right, we want to be about the community.

The next topic is making sure our podcasts are as accessible as possible. We want all of our current readers to benefit from the addition of audio talks, as well as welcome more who find audio easier to follow. Therefore, we would like to become more aware of the accessibility needs you all will encounter in order to enjoy this new feature. Please let us know any concerns and solutions you have, we care that everyone benefits! Discussion is already underway for the most apparent issue, which is transcribing the talk so those who are unable to listen can read along and join in on the discussion just like everyone else. Details such as appreciating transcription in non-spoken English languages are definitely input we’d like to know! Knowing a service or method to easily be able to do things like that will also be helpful to share. Would adding visuals help or hinder your experience? Let us know!

We hope you all are as excited as we are to start up this podcast and that you can take some time to drop in your two cents so we are aware of our community’s needs and interests. Drop off a comment here and we will try out best to address all the questions that may crop up. Let’s make it work!

About Mattie Brice

Mattie Brice is a game critic, designer, social justice activist, and student at San Francisco State University. She focuses her writing on diversity initiatives in the video game community, often bringing in the perspective of marginalized voices like transgender and multi-racial women to publications like Paste, Kotaku, The Border House, and Pop Matters. Mattie also consults and speaks at gaming related conferences like the Game Developers Conference and IndieCade. Her studies have led her to explore narrative design and plans to push the borders of how we think of the medium. Tweets at @xMattieBrice.
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15 Responses to What Would You Like to See in a ‘The Border House’ Podcast?

  1. Doral says:

    I’m a big fan of Gamers With Jobs’ podcast, both in their content and format. If you aren’t aware, they typically start off around the table, discussing games they’ve played recently as a means of casually breaking the ice between the show and the audience then launch into their topic or theme of choice for the week. The topics are generally inspired by current events within the gaming community, you know?

    So in this case, if you were to record an episode right now I think a good topic to dwell upon would be Bioware’s clusterfuck of a PR effort that happened this summer with FemShep and, more recently, the Liara statute. Then you could branch off to other devs who may be doing it right (or just as badly).

    I wouldn’t be too big on expanding more on articles that are already on the blog, personally. Unless it relates to the topic at hand, I would find that pretty redundant and navel-gazy.

    Minor caveat though, I’m a huge stickler for audio quality. Please do your best to make sure the audio quality is as good as possible for all the participants, because damn, it is just infuriating trying to listen to something that resembles a muffled trash compactor. I’ve quit plenty of otherwise excellent podcasts due to audio quality.

  2. Shy says:

    I think talking about current events is the way to go. The written articles allow more depth on a topic, so a podcast might be better at having few people more casually discussing things.

  3. Maverynthia says:

    I’d say current events and if not that, pick a couple games that people have played either recently or in the past and talk about the issues those games had, or how they solves issues.

  4. As someone who has done this several times himself I can offer some advice.

    I would advise not to run a podcast based off solely of current events and news discussed in a casual way. It will kill it’s potential. Every video game site and it’s partner has a causal current events discussion podcast. Your best bet is to match the content you publish on the site in style and attitude towards content. Focus your discussion to a single topic. Current events can be one, but you are best at looking at one in depth. Maybe you’d like to try talking about the games you are playing as a segment, but I’d suggest you wait on that until you’ve established your podcast’s voice.

    Second thing. Length and regularity. How often will you do the podcast? Weekly? Monthly? Whenever the hell you get around to it like CDC? This matters and will effect or rather should effect how long the final presented recording will be. A weekly podcast should not go far over an hour. It should stick around an hour and even better would be to stay close to the 55 minute mark. Gamers With Jobs does two hours and it really gets to much week after week. The only reason I get away with multi-part, multi-hour podcasts is due to how irregular they are. Think of it as a way of making up for lack of content with time. Of course that’s only if you want them to go that long in the first place. Nothing wrong with shorter casts either. It’s when they go on to long it becomes an issue.

    Three. Get stable recording programs for Skype and test it out at least a week ahead of time before you start. First podcast recording I did went on for 4 and half hours and we had three people recording it and only one was successful. This was because I was using crapping trial software I hadn’t tested yet. I eventually broke down and bought Pamela for Skype out of my own pocket. It works and does pretty much whatever you want. It has a free trial for about a month. Test it out beforehand with a full conference call. Multiple times, with individuals and groups as well. Make sure the recorded file plays. Also, do the test for a hour or two, because sometimes the audio goes bad after a while if the file becomes too big. Face these technical issues before you ever begin publishing. I didn’t and the first two were a mess for different reasons. Play with the different settings and options.

    Four. Get good audio editing software. I have my own recommendations, but only because it’s what works for me, it might not for you. You’ll need the editing software even if you don’t go as batshit over the raw audio like I do. You’ll need it for the simple ability to convert the audio into proper channels and shift from mono to stereo or two channel to mono to stereo (like I do) or wav to mp3 or what have you. I suggest having the final compression be mp3 and in stereo. Also, experiment with one of those dry run recordings so you know exactly how to edit and what all the buttons do. You don’t want to f-up the real thing in post production.

    Five. Host the download with a link in the post itself, either before or after the show notes. iTunes is where most of the traffic will be, but it’s a wait to go up, they screw up the order and can hide it till…let’s just say there are a number of ways they can screw you over. Keep it hosted here, you don’t want to use another service, it screwed us over in the beginning. on a separate RSS feed that can update itself. So much less hassle. Also, keep the raw audio saved somewhere as well as the final edited product, both in hard drives. This is a precautionary measure.

    Six. Show notes, write them, but keep them short. No one wants to do a lot of reading if they are listening to a podcast. A few links to referenced material and then names of everyone who participated.

    Seven. Get both intro and outro music. It can be the same music, but it’s so much better to have a lead in that gets the listener ready for the discussion that a cold intro. It’s why the orchestra does that sound test before the music. It’s not to get in tune, they already are, it’s to let the audience know they are about to start. So useful and powerful the concept in the collective psyche that the PS3 uses it to subtly inform the player they are about to begin an experience. Unique intro music identifies the podcast and will induce the same effect. When they hear it, they will know they are in for a Border House podcast. Again test out inserting it in and cross-fades and what not before the big opening number.

    Eight. You’re transcribing the podcasts? More power to you, but wow.

    Nine. Make sure your headsets and mics work and give a clear recording. Additionally that everyone, should it be a regular cast, come in at about the same audio level. Consistency is the name of the game.

    Ten. Because it’s a nice round number.

    That’s all the advice from a learning on the job screw up. May you be afforded the luck to skip over the problems I encountered.

    • Sif says:

      “Seven. Get both intro and outro music. It can be the same music, but it’s so much better to have a lead in that gets the listener ready for the discussion that a cold intro.”

      This, a million times over.

      As for content, I’m mostly interested in interviews with developers and journalists on the topics that the Border House talks about. (Isthisidinuse’s request for talks with pro-gamers is a cool idea too)

  5. isthisidinuse says:

    I would like to see people of color who play video games at a professional level as guests on the podcast.

    Gaming Podcasts that I’ve listened to and came across have been pretty much the average white male gamer when I know of other gamers of color (male and female) who play at a professional level as well.

  6. John Kershaw says:

    I would love to hear discussions based on articles published. I think having a back-and-forth, or devil’s advocate type situation could expand the topics out and make for some really interesting chatter.

    Every other podcast under the sun seems to do game reviews, so unless you can do them from a unique angle (which I actually think you’re in a good position to do), I’d not miss them.

    Other than that, I have very little else to add, I have confidence that whatever decision you reach will be excellent :)

  7. Norah says:

    About accessibility:

    Transcriptions (but you already said that, so…), and also, making sure that any audio (or video) you embed or link to does not start automatically after arriving at your post / the link.

  8. gglick says:

    Hearing every participant’s thoughts and impressions on the games they’re currently playing seems like it would be a good way to start each show. It’s fun and immediately relatable to any gamer listening and can act as a good warm-up for the participants.

    For primary content, I’d be happy listening to any discussion as long as it was done in-depth, as one of the great things about podcasts is it’s easier to expound on some topics in audio than it is in text. Current events, articles on the site, maybe a Topic of the Week? It all sounds good to me. While I don’t have nearly the wealth of experience or advice that The Game Critique does, I have done a semi-regular podcast myself for the last year and I can tell you that there’s nothing wrong with trying lots of things at first and seeing what sticks.

    I’d also like to recommend you check out this article on recording podcasts with high audio quality: http://www.macworld.com/article/162062/2011/09/skype_garageband_podcast_tips.html#lsrc.rss_main
    It’s on an Apple-oriented site, but even if you don’t use Macs it has a lot of good general podcasting tips as well.

    Can’t wait to hear the first episode!

  9. Hass says:

    I’d agree with The Game Critique for the most part, however there’s something I adore that’s present in all the podcasts I enjoy: off-topic shit-talking and general joking around. My best advice would be to try and have fun like it’s just you and some friends having a laugh. Structure and commentary on current evens are important, but so is energy and personality. It’s the personality of a podcast that keeps people coming back week after week.

    Oh also being able to subscribe on iTunes would be nice.

  10. idvo says:

    I’d like a sort of “doing it right” segment, where you talk about games/developers/critics/gamers/etc. that, either consciously or unconsciously, stay far away from -isms. There are a lot of games out there that put me off due to their problems in that area, so I’d like to know about games that don’t have them (or at least have very few of them).

  11. Be it talking about current events, or games the contributors are playing, I’d be most interested in a Borderhouse podcast because of the underrepresented social justice bent the community has established. It would be great to know for example that Alex is playing and loving a new game, but it would be a lot more interesting to know what the game is doing well or what she finds a hurdle in the enjoyment of that.

    Comments on audio quality and theme music kinds of things are also spot on, and on nurturing a friendly comfortable interaction environment where everyone is audible.

  12. Aaron says:

    I would love to hear occasional interviews with a diverse and opinionated assortment of industry people, journalists and writers.

  13. Two things I’d like to see: (1) an explicit commitment to progressive identity-politics, on a transnational level. And by that I mean putting race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity/nationality, and every other aspect of human identity directly on the table. (2) An explicit commitment to exploring the democratic potential of the digital commons, something which runs deep in videogame culture.

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