Back in 2007, I did a podcast called The Gamer Traveler in which I combined the seemingly disparate topics of gaming and travel. It didn’t last long, but it made a bit of an impact in the hobby gaming world, enough that to this day, people still associate my name with the show. Two weeks ago, a chance online connection brought The Gamer Traveler back into my mind, and I figured I’d write a little history of the show, if only to remember good times.
Back in the mid-2000s gaming podcasts were exploding onto the scene, and I wanted in on the action. I used to listen to the Dragon’s Landing Inn and Fear the Boot podcasts, along with a handful other ones, and I was excited by the new media. I also knew nothing of audio production, so I would listen carefully whenever the show hosts would talk about their setups, and even bought a book or two on the subject. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to create, but I knew the topic needed to be unique to set me apart in a growing crowd. My other lifelong obsession aside from gaming had always been travel, so I figured that could be my angle. Not only was there no one doing anything travel-related in gaming, it would also allow me to tap into the travel podcast market. Thus was The Gamer Traveler born.
I asked the hosts of the Dragon’s Landing Inn podcast if they’d be interested in a Gamer Traveler segment for their show, and they jumped at the idea. This would allow me to test the concept, and learn the ropes of podcast production with a relative safety net. The feedback to the bare-bones introduction episode was quite positive, and thus the first episode of the show, centered around Warwick Castle in England, was produced and aired a week or two later. This all happened from late 2006 to early 2007.
In early 2007 I was laid off, and I transitioned to doing freelance work and running my company part-time (as opposed to nights and weekends only). After just one episode, I decided to take the plunge and run The Gamer Traveler as its own podcast, launching in early 2007 with the two segment-length episodes already made, and a new one-hour special on Ireland. Throughout 2007 and 2008, I ended up producing six episodes of The Gamer Traveler, as well as four special episodes, and adding regular blogging to the scope of the show. During that time I also started a second podcast called The Digital Front, dedicated to the then-emergent PDF and ebook publishing gaming market, for which I produced another eight to nine episodes. The Digital Front podcast proved to be extremely popular given the explosion in digital publishing going on at the time, so I ended up giving that show the lion’s share of my attention, especially once I got a sponsor and advertisers.
I never really forgot about The Gamer Traveler, but I certainly didn’t give it the attention it deserved. Part of the problem was how labor-intensive it was to produce a show. Even though I was drawing on my own travel experiences, I still had to research the chosen location, draw up a few ideas on how to connect that to gaming, write a script, and revise it, in addition to the expected tasks of record, edit, and release. I did a couple episodes that were unscripted and more free-flowing, but those were the exception. Producing an episode of The Gamer Traveler could take me, start to finish, anything from one to two weeks, whereas an episode of The Digital Front, centered around an interview, with little editing needing to be done, could be done in a couple days, making it much easier to weave in between paying freelance work.
There was also an issue of recognition. I did these shows because I wanted to get my name out there and hopefully use that as a way to get full-time employment in the gaming industry. The Gamer Traveler certainly gave me some recognition, but The Digital Front was putting me in direct contact and helping me build relationships with key industry players, so it took center stage.
Everything changed in 2009. That was the year I spent about four combined months in Puerto Rico with my mother as she went in and out of the hospital once her cancer came back in full force. My entire life was put on hold, and when she died in August, I didn’t care to do anything ever again. I’ve gone back through my old posts in order to refresh my memory for this retrospective, and while I said a few times that I was only on hiatus, that I wasn’t closing up shop, that I would be back, the truth is that those were empty words: I was barely holding together my personal life, everything else did not matter anymore.
By the time I climbed out of that depression, I was already enrolled in pre-nursing classes, and had little free time for anything not school-related. My entire hobby life got shelved, and I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be for years to come. It’s been almost ten years now since the last time I did anything for The Gamer Traveler. Heck, I don’t even have the audio files for any but the first three shows, and I had to use Google to find my own logo banner and images, if that gives you any indication of how disconnected from it all I got in the last few years.
Still, I always think fondly of The Gamer Traveler. And apparently so do some people still out in the gaming world.
In episode 480 of Fear the Boot, the hosts talked to their guest about the gaming and travel anthology he’s putting together, and they bring up The Gamer Traveler. I’d missed the mention since I don’t really listen to gaming podcasts anymore, but a friend of mine linked me to the episode page. Not only did the hosts reminisce about my show, turns out the anthology editor had been looking for a way to get in touch with me for the project, which Dan Repperger, FTB’s main host, and longtime friend, facilitated. It’s humbling that ten years later people still remember my little show.
That’s the story of The Gamer Traveler, the podcast that brought together the two different niches of gaming and travel into a PB-&-J-sandwich of awesome if only for a while. You can find the only available episodes for free download at DriveThruRPG.com, although I’d say that listening to them would qualify as archeological research. I don’t know what I’ll do with The Gamer Traveler in the future, but I’m certainly dusting it up and leaving it where I can see it, metaphorically speaking, so I don’t forget it. Who knows, one day The Gamer Traveler may travel again.