Recently, I stumbled upon a show that changed how I think about games. How I think about who I am in relation to gaming, and how I think about gamers. The show is called Extra Credits, and if you’ve already seen it, then you know just how truly groundbreaking this show is.
The idea is simple. Daniel Floyd: Narrator, James Portnow: Writer and Allison Theus: Illustrator have been involved in gaming and gaming-related projects for a while, and essentially, they made a podcast sharing their ideas. This would be pretty normal and boring except, to put it succinctly, every one of their ideas is so brilliant it belongs in a book next to the Kants and John Stuart Mills of the world. Every podcast is genius, interweaving comedy, lessons and advice about gaming on topics ranging from what it is to be a “gamer” to taking and dealing with criticism, to videogame writing.
Extra Credits delves into topics about the gaming industry as a whole that may have been talked about before, but covers them in a whole new, meaningful, educational and extremely entertaining and downright fascinating way. There is no show like it, no viewpoint from inside the game industry perspective quite like this show.
Since their show is on The Escapist, I will have to refer to what basically is the only thing The Escapist is known for. Personally I think that this show is far better than Yahtzee’s. Zero Punctuation is great for game reviews, but it doesn’t really give you any knowledge, it just makes you laugh, and some weeks it doesn’t even do that. Don’t get me wrong, I love Zero Punctuation and I watch it every week, but the difference between episodes of Zero Punctuation and episodes of Extra Credits is that episodes of Extra Credits make me laugh, think and reflect on different ways of looking at games and thinking about them, but Zero Punctuation I am compelled to watch simply to see what Yahtzee thinks about a game. It doesn’t help me with or teach me anything at all, nor is it as funny.
I know this sounds like hyperbole, but since watching the show, I haven’t really looked at games the way I used to. While I am always a “narrative-driven” gamer, I never really thought about the storyline, or the individual mechanics so thoroughly before watching Extra Credits. Since it’s written from a game designer’s standpoint, it made me realize how amazing games can be as a whole, and how awesome our medium is when comparing it to others. It really is a simply funny, entertaining and educational show about games. Every episode takes a topic and turns it into an idea that, if anyone were to listen to, it would rake in millions of dollars. Every episode. Frankly, I think these guys should be selling their ideas instead of just making a podcast for the masses about them, but apparently their benevolence is just that magnificent.
Seriously though, I know it sounds like “they’re paying me!” or some other completely untrue thing, but I hope that everyone enjoys their show as much as I do. I don’t even know the guys, I was just so impressed by every episode that was done that I felt I had no choice but to make an article devoted exclusively to getting the word out about how great that show is. Hopefully they’ll mention me in an episode, probably devoted to how game writing/blogging/journalism has gone down the tubes and what we can do to improve it. You know what, I would look forward to that episode the most.n’t know them either.
And no, they shouldn’t be selling the episodes, they’re not trying to sell games or ideas, they educate us and make us aware of what’s being sold, and that is priceless =)