Head on over to the iTunes Podcast directory and search for “video games.” Pick one podcast at random. Ninety-nine times out of 100, that podcast will adhere to a certain standard format: a bunch of videogame fans sitting around a microphone and rambling about videogames. Likely they’ll talk about what’s in the news that day or week, review games they’ve been playing recently, and maybe answer some letters from readers. If you’re lucky, they may talk to a game developer or touch lightly on some larger themes surrounding gaming culture or the industry. If you’re really lucky, they’ll avoid the kinds of inside jokes and rambling asides that make most gaming podcasts hours-long bores.
But if you’re extremely lucky, that videogame podcast you picked out at the beginning will be the one in 100 that doesn’t fit the standard formula. If you’re that lucky, you’ve probably stumbled upon Robert Ashley’s “A Life Well Wasted.” (ALWW)
More than just a gaming podcast, ALWW is, as the tagline puts it, “an Internet radio show about videogames and the people who love them.” Rather than just jawing about whatever comes to mind with other game journalists, Ashley actually tracks down and and interviews gamers inside and outside the industry, on subjects ranging from game journalism to game preservation, independent development to fan fiction, hardware hacking to cosplay. Ashley then snips the best parts from the interviews and cuts them together with music from his band, I Come to Shanghai. The result is a roughly hour-long audio story that resembles public radio shows like “This American Life” or “Radiolab” more than other gaming podcasts.