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The massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) podcasting community is incredibly rich. Taken together as a group, MMOG podcasts number in the dozens and feature some of the most dedicated gamers in the world. These players, and the medium of podcasting, have been playing a larger and larger role in the communities they serve. Whether they're bringing people together via forums or offering high-level players unique strategies, the massive podcaster makes the game more fun for everyone.
I had the chance to speak with the hosts of several well-known podcasts about their medium and its potential. The creators of VirginWorlds, World of Warcast, GuildCast, EQ2 Daily and The Official SOE Podcast were kind enough to share thoughts on their time behind the mic.
The first question most everyone asks is, why bother? "I think it has to do with the commitment the community has, and the passion," says Alan "Brenlo" Crosby , one of the minds behind The Official SOE Podcast. "They have a great deal of passion, these huge investments into these games, and they want to do more. They want to feel more a part of it, they want to contribute."
Participating in and creating subcommunities is the chief reason massive podcasters get behind the mic. GuildCast creator Shawn was upfront about his goals: "When I started GuildCast ... I wanted to create more of a community. Even after I started playing Guild Wars, I found myself still playing by myself. It just wasn't cutting it for me. ... I wanted to create something where people would have a common point of reference."
Brent of the VirginWorlds podcast feels the podcasters themselves are ultimately the tie that binds. "I believe that podcasting builds community and trust better than any other medium online right now because of the personality involved. ... Before the podcasting at Ziff [Davis] launched, most people wouldn't have cared one lick if one of those people left the site. Now, though, if Jeff Green were to leave the magazine, people would be like, 'Ahh!' ... It would be very disconcerting to the VirginWorlds listeners and browsers if Brent were not here tomorrow. There's no replacement for that."
But it does go beyond making a name for yourself. When "Starman" started World of Warcast, he had a very specific model to build on: "I wanted to do a [The] Screen Savers for [World of Warcraft]. That was essentially it. I wanted it to be fun, I wanted it to be informative, I wanted to bring a bunch of things to the table. I basically wanted it to be the place people would go to, to learn about the game, just like I would watch The Screen Savers every day at 7:00 to learn about technology. ... I think, over the last two years, it's really become exactly what I wanted it to be."
A mix of community and information seems to be a winning combination for podcast subscribers, and speaks to the power of coverage by dedicated fans versus that of traditional gaming media. EQ2 Daily's "Cyanbane" pointed out that, "Pre-WoW, I think that there was a disjoint between your bigger sites and players. You had the people who played EverQuest, and the playerbase that played [MMOGs], and then you had the people that played every other videogame. Don't get me wrong, if you're [a big site], you're going to cater to the bigger market. And now that WoW has hit, you've started to see an upswing in coverage. Even still, it's more looking for the press release kind of stuff. They'll set up their hub and put up screenshots, and then a review, but then after that you don't get much in the way of content."