Is It Wrong to Love “Podcast Games”?

When we talk about playing games, we usually mean a specific approach: a player focused on the game and getting as few distractions out of the experience as possible. Many of the biggest games out there are designed specifically to encourage this immersion, often actively punishing players when they drift off.

That’s not how I would describe my relationship with games. Maybe you know the term “podcast game‘, a game that can be conveniently played with just a fraction of your full attention, either muting or ignoring the audio while a podcast, TV show, or Twitch stream plays in the background. This has gone from something I do occasionally to how I spend most of my time gaming, and even factors into deciding what games I play in the first place. What started as a sort of guilty habit has evolved over time into a new way of understanding how we “play” games.

What makes a good “podcast game” may vary depending on who you ask, but the best all share a common DNA. They need as little story and dialogue as possible, can be challenging but don’t require your constant attention, and perhaps most importantly – they must contain at least some elements of repetitive worldliness. Grinding is a good example: I’ve spent large chunks of my life mindlessly leveling up in Pokemon, a series of podcasts that keep me entertained while I’m focused on the game just enough to keep from dying.

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