Ever since Gen Con, the various gaming podcasters have been having lots of conversations about the new-found legitimacy of podcasting by the industry, the lessons learned the last year, and ideas for what the future brings. At the Dragon’s Landing Podcast’s forums we are having various conversations about the future of gaming podcasts, especially what it will take for the new batch of podcasters to make it in the field. The following is a very long post I made with some of my thoughts. You can see the original thread here and the my post here. Lots of links have been added for convenience.
This is a very exciting time to be tuned in to the whole podcast phenomenon, in general. Specifically in gaming podcast, this goes 100 times more so, because, thanks to the early adopters who have broken ground and gained an amazing level of legitimacy, the soil is fertile now for a new crop to come up.
In many ways I see Gen Con as the turning point, and specifically the Megacast as being the Big Bang of the new era in gaming podcasts. A lot of things were said at the cast, a lot of ideas and theories and plans, that during the next year we will see put into action and be able to, very clearly, see how they had their genesis at the Megacast.
Of particular interest, for me especially, is the concept of the new batch of podcasts and the form they should take in order to thrive in the already-existing field. The general advice show has been done, and quite well, so there’s no need to rehash it. It’s time to become a true specialist, and take advante of the Long Tail effect.*
If you really stop to think about it, and look at the current generation (let’s call them Generation Alpha, to borrow Chuck and Lonnie’s new scheme), you’ll find the concept of specialization has already taken place: you have Dragon’s Landing Inn with general RPG advice; Gamer! The Podcasting with general LARP advice; Fist Full of Comics (and Games) going for the very obvious (and quite ignored until, and except for, them) brige of comics and games; All Games Considered doing a review show that manages not to be repetitive in a field with Paul Tevis’ Have Games, Will Travel; Ogre Cave Audio Report is the only one doing industry news and commentary, something I would love to have more of; Fear the Boot seems like it’s going for the general RPG advice, but they are so systematic that they manage not to be repetitive with DLI, etc.
The reason this is interesting for me in particular is because this is preciselyt the kind of thinking that led me to create The Gamer Traveler. Currently TGT plays as part of the DLI, but that was a practical decision based on my circumstances at the moment; in all other aspects, TGT is its own podcast, and I envision taking it solo in the near future as well. In terms of focus, the podcast was born out of me thinking, “How can I do a gaming podcast that is unique and niche enough to justify me making it at all?” It took a while, but I finally landed the concept. I still need to tighten up the execution, for sure, but I am very secure that I have created a product that, by its very nature, is not likely to be copied, thus assuring me an original output and space in the podcast field.
This is the same thinking that needs to go into the creation of new podcasts in our field; we need to look for specialties, things for which we feel passionate about and we can talk someone’s ear off and (quite importantly) complement the existing ‘casts so that we do not offer direct competition, but rather synergy.
As far as the established podcasts helping out to promote the new generation, I don’t think that would be a problem. Remember at the end of the day we are not really in competition; though a listener’s time is at a premium, better informing the listener about the options out there, the options that would truly maximize their listening time, creates a better listener, one that is both loyal to the community and thankful for having been exposed to cool things he/she may not have found about before. Many of the smaller PDF game publishers already do this, and the result has been better loyalty from the customers and an ever expanding pool of new people being exposed to our products.
Another thing we, as listeners, need to start getting used to is that the content we are being provided by these podcasters is valuable and worth money; I, for one, welcome their new attempts at laying the groundwork for ways to eventually generate a profit from their hard, hard work.
Like I said, this is a very exciting time to be a listener and a podcaster, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.
* – The short and simplified version: the Long Tail effect states that there is a potentially-endless market for uber-niche products that, while it may dwindle to a very small amount, actually never reaches zero. Read the Wikipedia article if you want a more theoretical explanation.