Podcasts have been a crucial part product in the past decade of my life. The journey started back in high school with the legendary 1UP Yours. Garnett Lee, Shane Bettenhausen, Luke Smith, and John Davison confirmed my weekends for years on end. The personality driven talk show was ages ahead of its time, laying the foundation for all video game podcasts that ensued. Not until the strange series of events that led to Giant Bomb would it find a proper successor.
The story starts in 2007 with Jeff Gertsmann, former Editorial Director of GameSpot. After 10 years with the company, Jeff’s notoriety grew steadily, quickly shifting to one of the most prolific names in the industry. As it would turn out, that fame wouldn’t be enough to keep him safe; shortly after publishing a review for Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days, an Eidos title heavily advertised on GameSpot itself, and assigning it a relatively middling review score, he was let go. The imminent firestorm that reigned down on the the game side would forever change its fate. Much of their user base who came for honest reviews would forever second guess any piece of coverage they published going forward. Gertsmann-gate would go down as a one of the most monumental cases in gaming journalism ethics. Out of a job, Jeff needed to figure out his next move, gaming or otherwise.
Alongside long time friend Ryan Davis, Jeff begin the Arrow Pointing Down podcast. Despite having a focus on games, the duo would often digress into off topic tidbits such as live drink taste tests. Even without focus, those two could put on a show alright. After a few more talents were acquired, Giant Bomb came to life in July 2008. With Alex Navarro, Vinny Caravella, Brad Shoemaker, and Drew (Meme God) Scanlon on board, the website quickly gained traction among gaming enthusiasts. The Arrow Pointing Down podcast would be rebranded to the Giant Bombcast, a weekly show focused on gaming that would drop on every Tuesday from then on out. Like 1UP Yours, the podcast relied on the personalities driving it: Jeff was seen as a moderate cynic with a lot of interesting stories about the industry, Ryan’s knowledge of the industry rivaled Gerstmann’s and worked as a solid foil, Brad’s obsession with the technical aspects of games made him a force to be reckoned with, Vinny Caravella and his charming goofiness made him the cool dad everyone wants to be when they grow up.
The Bombcast could, perhaps, be my longest running tradition. I’ve been there from the beginning, and I’m still there now. I was there for the hiring of news editors Patrick Klepek and Austin Walker, I was there for the CBS buyout, I was there for the sudden passing of Ryan Davis. Despite it being around for less than a decade, the boat known as Giant Bomb has been rocked by a number of waves, but time and time again it manages to brave every occurrence. Giant Bomb has expanded: A New York office compliments the one in San Francisco, and their podcast, the Giant Beastcast, rivals the Bombcast in quality. One of the crew’s newest additions, one Dan Ryckert, has changed the site’s trajectory in an indisputably overt way. Mario Party Party, a series of grueling 50 turn sessions of Nintendo’s not-so-beloved minigame franchise, came from his reverence of the series as a child. Dan’s other big claim to fame, Metal Gear Scanlon, features him “coaching” greenhorn Drew Scanlon through Hideo Kojima’s epic Metal Gear Solid series. Recently, their content output reached fever pitch, surpassing the volume that any (reasonable) individual could consume.
Why do I come back? To be honest, they almost feel like family. There’s no group of people I understand more than these dudes. Every Tuesday and Friday I’m gifted two to three hours of banter amongst a tight knit group of friends. On the weekends, I might tune in to the hours of video content: Quick Looks, Unprofessional Fridays, the list goes on. Honestly, it’s not even about the video games at this point, it’s about watching my favorite set of entertainers having a good time. Once you Bombcast, you never go back