Hi everyone! My name is Derek Price, and I'm a 3rd year German graduate student at the Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures Department at Vanderbilt University. I'm a HASTAC Scholar for the 2016-2017 year working with the Curb Center for Art, Entrepreneurship, and Public Policy here at Vanderbilt. Over the course of the next year, I'll be blogging about planning, organizing, and carrying out a podcast on video games and their larger cultural significance. I wanted to take this first post to talk about some of my inspirations for this project, as well as sketch out an idea of the format I imagine the podcast will take.
As is the case for many new podcasters, I got the idea to start one by listening to a lot of them, but the most important and formative for this project was The Giant Beastcast. Produced by the popular gaming site Giant Bomb as an East-Coast spin-off of their already very popular Giant Bombcast, the Giant Beastcast quickly took on a very different tone than the goofy, joking, sarcastic tone of its more popular predecessor. A lot of this was due to the hiring of Austin Walker, who was at one time (I believe) a gradaute student at Western University in their Media Department. His inclusion in the podcast brought a level of intellectual rigour and criticality that produced some really excellent episodes, and the more I thought about and listened to their conversations, the more I realized that the discussions we have in seminars bore striking similarities to the podcasts that I enjoyed the most.
I was also inspired by the work done by HASTAC scholars Terry Schenold and Edmond Chang at University of Washington under the name of "CGP: Critical Gaming Project," specifically their "Keywords Sessions." Each seminar seems to have been carried out in person in a sort working-group seminar format, with each meeting focused around a "Keyword" in Games Studies. With keywords like "Close/Distant," "Body/Sex," "History," "Fantasy," and "Immersion/Interactivity," their Seminars a veritable treasure trove of ideas for podcast sessions. I intend to borrow from their lists of suggested texts and games and also to build off of and modify their format as needed for the podcast format.
Both of these inspirations led me to the following (rough) plan for the format of the podcast: Each episode will be based around a theme or topic, and a group of 3-5 graduate students, professors, and/or undegraduates will read a text (or two) and play a game (or two), and then simply get together and talk about our experiences with both. I believe that because of our experience in seminars, we'll be able to produce lively and entertaining, but also critical and intellectually rigorous discussions that explore the multiple meanings and broader contexts into which video games fit.
In a later post I'll discuss more about my approach to video games and how I see them fitting into the distinct but interconnected worlds of academia, technology, and entertainment, but I'd love to end by posing some questions: For those of you who've run or participated in a podcast before, how did you organize/plan it? How many people did you have on at the same time? Did everyone participate in-person, or did some (or all) participants participate over the internet? How did you find a group of people that represented diverse backgrounds (in the many senses of that word) who still had enough points of contact to have engaging, critical, and enjoyable discussions? What did you find to be one of the most important parts of running a successful podcast?