It’s the time of the year where everyone is putting out their end of the year awards, and we are again taking our own crack at highlighting the best of the best in our medium of choice– podcasts. We cover mostly game and tech podcasts, so our picks stick pretty closely to these fields. Look for a wider variety in our personal picks coming up tomorrow.
We had 5 different categories our awards last year, so we had to 1-up ourselves this year, so we went with 6. All jokes aside, we’ve brought back a couple categories from last year and are substituting others for ones that just didn’t seem to work as well this time around. A good amount of time was spent deciding the winners in their respective categories, with some categories being more contentious than others.
These are our picks, but you can have a voice as well. The reader/listener poll is running until 12am (midnight) on December 31st/January 1st so don’t miss your chance to help the chances of your favorite podcast.
Without further ado, our picks:
Production is a tricky thing, it is both simple and complicated. As professional-grade tools are readily accessible to almost all in need of them, making a podcast sound good isn’t too difficult these days. That brings this award down to expertise in both artistic and technical ability.
Winner – The Engadget Show
Runner-up – Irrational Behavior
The Engadget show has been around for just over a year, and has only had 16 episodes, but once you see one you will understand what goes into it. It brings a level of professional to a tech show that is usually only present on broadcast television. It also delivers a format that provides insight into the business side of the tech industry that is rarely, if ever, seen in the medium.
Irrational Behavior doesn’t get runner-up here because of the technical prowess on display, it all comes down to careful editing that elevates it beyond what anyone would expect from an “interview show.”
Podcasts come and go, just like your favorite TV shows. These are the ones we miss the most.
Winner – The Idle Thumbs Podcast
Runner-up – The Sound Test
Idle Thumbs was a classic. The perfect blend of personality and insightful commentary, it tackled the difficult task of stratling the line of taking games seriously and acknowledging that they are sometime just for having a good time. It appeared a few times in our awards last year, and its absence has only made us realize even more how special it was. The Wizard indeed.
1UP‘s The Sound Test was a unique show. Ray Barnholt delivered a podcast that dug deep into the rarely explored musical side of gaming, and that’s why it was so special. It was one of those shows that made you appreciate games more, and probably even provides a glimpse into a facet of the past-time that many probably wouldn’t otherwise spend much time thinking about.
Podcasts, especially lengthier ones, are often broken up into segments to give us all a breather. Even among our favorite podcasts, certain segments deliver more than others. These are the ones that we are always looking forward to.
Winner – Fake outtakes (This is Only a Test)
Runner-up – Jeff reads the releases (Giant Bombcast)
This is Only a Test, the podcast from Whiskey Media’s new tech site Tested, takes top honors. As a new podcast, hosts Will Smith and Norman Chan thought best to include a typical outtakes segment at the end of each show, but it is probably fair to assume that even they didn’t know it would end up in its current state. The segment isn’t outakes at all, in fact, they have taken to calling the “fake outtakes” segment. It boils podcasting down to its essence, people just sitting around a table talking about stuff– sometimes for 45 mintes! As usual, it’s the personalities that make this work, Will and Norm, along with guests Gary Whitta and Ana Hurka-Robles deliver some mind-bending and hilarious discussions week-in and week-out.
As for Jeff’s reading of the weekly WiiWare and DSiWare releases, uhg. Don’t remind us, our faces already hurt from the prolonged laughing fits. Tip: Be careful about listening to this segment while in public lest you look like a raving lunatic.
Best first-party podcast:
This is a new category for this year’s awards. While 2010 didn’t bring the first instance of game publishers and developers targeting their audiences directly through the podcast medium, it is the year that the space really came into its own. These are the picks that elevated this concept far beyond just spreading company PR points.
Winner – Irrational Behavior
Runner-up – The Bethesda Podcast
Irrational Behavior won top honors for production, and that is saying a lot considering it is basically a string of interviews. Whether the focus is in-house people and topics or not, insightful discussion always abounds. The topic are generally centered around game design, and who better to shine a light on this subject than those who live it every day? We dare you to listen and not come away more intrigued and amazed at the kind of critical thought that goes on behind the scenes to deliver you a great game.
The Bethesda Podcast is a success for many of the same reasons as Irrational Behavior. Listening to intelligent people discuss interesting topics is always a formula for success. Look no further than the episode with John Carmack discussing the building of rockets and his opinions on inter-planetary travel. ‘Effen SPACE!
Best New Podcast 2010:
Podcasts are a rare medium that allow anyone to talk directly to their audience, and that it why there are such a vital tool for any public-facing outlet or company. New ones hit in 2010, these are our favorites.
Winner – This is Only a Test
Runner-up – My Brother, My Brother and Me
Whiskey Media was around before Giant Bomb, but it wasn’t nearly what it is today. Giant Bomb seems to have single-handedly turned Whiskey Media into a place that people go to celebrate their love for their given interest: Games, Tech, Comics, Movie, and probably more soon. Tested, the tech arm of Whiskey Media, delivers this in spades. This is Only a Test delivers informed technology discussion in a package that makes you happy to be a member of the technorati.
The brain-child of the brothers McElroy, two of which write for Joystiq and cut their teeth on the Joystiq Podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Me is a strange show. Composed of mostly Q&A with their listeners, this is an “advice” show. Although good advice does squeak-in from time to time, most of what is said here is completely ludicrous, but it is that special kind of inane insanity that makes this a one of a kind.
Best Podcast 2010 (the Giant Bombcast memorial award):
This is the end-all be-all. We love these shows and hope to never see them in the “Most missed” category– oh wait.
Winner – The Idle Thumbs Podcast
Runner-up – Engadget Podcast
What more can be said? If you have ever listened to Idle Thumbs or The Idle Thumbs Podcast you know why this is here. If you haven’t, what are you doing? Get on that backlog! Chris Remo, Nick Breckon, Jake Rodkin, Steve Gaynor. The mix of these personalities delivered one special course of thumb soup. We love these guys so much that we will cop to the fact that they probably influenced us a bit in our picks for “Best First-Party Podcast.” Hint: Some of these guys work at those places now. It’s weird how quality follows some people that way. 2010 wouldn’t have been the year that it was for podcasts without The Idle Thumbs Podcast.
The Engadget Podcast pulls the #2 slot this year. By no means a new show, as the podcast from giant tech blog Engadget, it has been around for years– over 6 years to be exact. Hosts Joshua Topolsky, Nilay Patel and Paul Miller really came into their own this year. The tech discussion is among the best around and the personalities deliver, so much so that a whole website has spawned from the podcast that features a weekly game of bingo revolving around the common discussion topics and personal catch phrases. If you are at all into technology, this is where you start.