If you’re a regular on this blog, you’ve probably seen that we’re a fan of podcasts, myself especially. I feel that they are a unique medium, giving a literal voice to a vast group of content creators. Plus, you can listen to them while doing other activities, giving a busy listener ample chance to consume the content. This is important because, as we’re finding, content consumers aren’t a single, monolithic group with a large amount of spare time.
Gamers are a diverse group, despite what some stereotypes may want you to believe, and this diversity includes the types of games we enjoy. It’s increasingly noticeable that much of games coverage is dedicated to a “hardcore,” long-invested, console/high-end PC demographic, but they are far from the only people playing games. In fact, this may be one of the factors that put off new gamers; the insular “if you aren’t in the club already, you shouldn’t be” mindset pervades gaming. This totally ignores the growing mobile space. But this week’s Web Crush Wednesday, the punnily-named Unconsoleable, does not.
Their tagline “we love games, but consoles scare us” speaks to this disparity loudly and clearly. Hosted by Jessica Dennis and Anna Tarkov, Unconsoleable is definitely a podcast for people worn out or turned off by some of the more hardcore/bro-gamer-centric podcasts. For this reason, they’ve chosen to highlight the mobile (smartphones, tablets, etc) market, and cater to fans who may be considered more casual. In their estimation, which I agree with, “casual” isn’t a pejorative. There are many gamers who may have children, high workloads, school, or simply a light interest level in games, and just don’t have the time to dedicate to 60-hour epics. While Dennis and Tarkov don’t denigrate those who do, they feel the casual audience is under-served and deserves some attention.
Each week, the two ladies talk about gaming news surrounding mobile games, such as updates to what they’ve played, and what may be in the public conversation. They also discuss trends as they relate to the general gaming community, but try to keep it related to mobile entries. Still, if something is important or relevant enough to deserve discussion, such as diversity initiatives and the like, they don’t shy away from these topics. One such recent example was their discussion of Splatoon. While they don’t typically play on consoles, they pointed out that this game (based on articles they read) seems to be far more welcoming and inclusive to a casual market than other shooters, and is making them consider the purchase. In essence, while Dennis and Tarkov’s specialty is mobile games, they mostly care about the casual market.
They also strive to make their show accessible. On a basic level, their show uses family-friendly language. More specific to gaming, however, is their effort not to use terminology based on years of playing. For example, acronyms like MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) and FPS (first-person shooter), or terms like “respawn point” (an area a player character begins from when they die in a multiplayer game) aren’t terms that are inherently understandable and obvious right away. Dennis and Tarkov make sure to limit using terms like this without some kind of description or context. This is a huge step for inclusivity. Again, much of our efforts in expanding audience comfort comes in personal diversity, gender, race, financial status, physical accessibility, and the like, but we hardly discuss “time spent gaming.” Many of the cues and lingo we rely on to explain games aren’t discriminatory to personal diversity, but they don’t do any favors to anyone who hasn’t been playing for years already.
Another thing I like about their show is that it’s proud to be feminine/girly. This is a much needed palate cleanser when dealing with the dudebro attitude prevalent in games media. Even if men aren’t actively participating in toxic masculinity, they often subconsciously push the idea that you have to act like a guy or be interested in stereotypically masculine things in order to really discuss games. There’s a discussion to be had about women trying to be “the cool girl” or “one of the guys” at the cost of ignoring femininity and internalizing misogyny. As I previously described Spawn on Me as unabashedly Black, I’d describe Unconsoleable as unabashedly feminine. From their pink logo, to their appreciation of the term “gamie,” (gamer, but you know, less aggressive sounding) to their nickname for hardcore games—shooty-stabbies—their aesthetic isn’t trying to appeal to a gruff crowd. And there is no need to: what they do is fun and it works.
Overall, Unconsoleable is a breath of fresh air in the games podcasting space. A feminine, inclusive show about mobile games serves many audiences that are starved for content. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, check them out on Twitter @unconsoleable or their website to find their show!
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