Our podcasts are products, whether I like it or not. They're polished little experiences that thousands of people consume and you wonderful few are willing to pay for. There's an element of business consideration or marketing or whatever that is inherent in what we do, which, while it makes me a little sick, it's also part and parcel.
To that end, a certain amount of "giving the people what they want" makes sense. I feel like were we strictly mercenary, we'd do a lot of things differently and consequently have more listeners and therefore more patrons, etc. For example, some of our most popular episodes are on big name RPGs. If we were to up the number of JRPGs in our rotation, we'd probably have more listeners. But these episodes are taxing and we're interested in all kinds of games, so we don't do that.
Another way I think we could probably make the podcast go down a little more smoothly would be to cut out non game discussion or at least political opinions. We've been called to task for this before, always respectfully, and seeing what my good friend Bob goes through for his mild opinions on Retronauts, it's clear that there is a significant listener base that doesn't care for left leaning social justice types who also like video games.
There was even a 4chan post warning people away from WOFF because the hosts are SJWs (social justice warriors). There would be an element of safety in curbing such opinions. One could argue that rape culture has little to do with Mario's jump physics. And yet...
That would suck. Going in to record in work mode, in safety mode, would suck for all involved. It would suck for us to have to avoid rabbit holes. It would suck for us to have to compartmentalize our selves. We come into a recording session as people. We're scared and hurt and angry about the world. Yes, on paper, we're here to talk about Metroid Prime but maybe I just got done having a GamerGater call me a baby white knight and maybe Kole just read about some sexually motivated violence. Maybe I spent the afternoon considering that maybe my mother failed as a parent because of the lack of resources available to single mothers in the 90s. The grand sum of our humanity would be a lot to swallow.
It would suck for you guys too. I feel like you can get two white guys talking about video games just about anywhere. What I like to think makes us worth listening to is that we're not two white guys, we're Gary and Kole. Gary had a shitty childhood and Kole is nervous a lot of the time. We both care more about people than games. Bringing our everything to the show means that the show can be unique. Even if that means opinions you don't agree with.
And about those opinions: Social consciousness is something I had to grow over time. I was an idiot kid throwing around rape jokes and saying faggot/gay casually in my early teens. As recently ten years ago, I was making jokes I wouldn't make now, be they sexist or transphobic. There are early proto Pitches (Dinopitches) that I think are borderline transphobic. What changed? I got better and I met some people. I honestly think that insensitivity to that sort of thing is a product of ignorance. It's hard to be transphobic when you have a trans friend, it's hard to be homophobic when you've had a gay friend. Every single gay person I've ever met has been a total sweetheart and completely awesome. Putting faces and feelings to the group in question is the first step.
It's not that some of those jokes weren't funny. It's that those jokes being funny is not more important than their being harmful to other people. It's not censorship. I consider myself to be a pretty funny person, even now with those tools removed from my vocabulary. Sure, people have the right to say whatever they want but it's still a choice to do so, and it's a choice one should be judged for.
I know that given the location of this blog, it's very likely I'm preaching to the choir. But if I'm not, if you're someone who rolls their eyes every time Kole and I say that a woman is being represented poorly in a game, maybe question why that's your first reaction. Why do you consider it to be unimportant? Or more directly, if it is unimportant to you, why do you assume that it is universally unimportant?
This ended up being a little more rambly than I thought it would. In the end, my main point is that the politics and social justice stuff is going to stick around and though it may bother some listeners and may seem like commercial suicide to others, I believe the world is getting more progressive and that, in the long term, being respectful and sensitive is going to earn us a higher caliber of listener. And to a large extent, it already has.