8 Great Podcasts for Game Designers and Developers
Podcasts are my personal favorite way to learn new things and absorb information. Much to my girlfriend’s chagrin, I have them playing all the time. Including whenever I do chores around the house like washing the dishes or hanging the laundry.
I find the long-form conversations podcasting encourages are the perfect venue to explore the many nuances of game development. Also, due to the low barrier to entry and whatever other reasons, I find that Podcasts are most often hosted by experienced game designers or developers themselves. In stark contrast to YouTubers (which we also have a list of) who are often either enthusiasts who are outside of the industry looking in, or small indie developers who are using YouTube as a devlog or a way to market their upcoming game.
In no particular order, here Is our list of podcasts to listen to at any stage of your game development journey.
1 – Coffee With Butterscotch
Hosts: Sam Coster, Seth Coster, Adam Coster
Coffee With Butterscotch is a podcast hosted by three brothers who are also the founders of the game studio Butterscotch Shenanigans. A self-described comedy podcast, Coffee with Butterscotch leans more towards rambling conversations and entertaining anecdotes, all framed around the host’s love of making and playing games, as well as news and developments in the industry as a whole.
As an example of what you can expect, at the time of writing, one of the latest episodes (EP277) devoted a considerable amount of runtime to discussing the relative mass of butterflies and goldfish crackers, as well as having an in-depth discussion of the pros and cons of being bald.
2 – Eggplant: The Secret Lives of Games
Hosts: Nick Suttner (Celest), Andy Nealen (Osmos) Zach Gage (Really Bad Chess), Douglas Wilson (Mutazione)
This podcast was previously called The Spelunky Showlike and had a format that was closely tied to its name. It was formed after the announcement of Spelunky 2 and had the interesting gimmick of using the original Spelunky game as a lens through which to examine various aspects of game design. That may seem like a niche angle but they managed to squeeze over 30 (citation needed) episodes out of the format before broadening their scope to a more general game development podcast.
As with many of the podcasts on this list, Eggplant features many interviews with game creators where they conduct “Candid conversations with game creators that dive deep into the art, craft, and process of making games.”
3 – The Game Design Roundtable
Hosts: Dirk Knemeyer (Tesla vs. Einstein), David V. Heron (Star Trek Timelines), Various Others (Known as Alumni)
This podcast is described as “By game designers, for game designers”. And unlike the previous entries on this list, The Game Design Roundtable doesn’t just focus on video games but also on board games and tabletop games.
Interviews on this podcast are not only conducted with a wide range of designers but also by them. As the roster of host not only includes the two regular hosts Dirk and David, but also a large number of additional host known as ‘Alumni’ who periodically sub in to provide a unique perspective that keeps interviews fresh while also providing invaluable insight on the design process.
As of writing, they have two ongoing series. The first is called ‘Designing Thematic Games’ where they talk to designers about challenges in designing for theme. The second is a series with well-known 4X designer Soren Johnson about the creation of his new game 10 Crowns.
4 – Humans Who Make Games
Host: Adam Conover (Adam Ruins Everything)
Humans who make games is a rare exception on this list as it’s not hosted by a game designer, nor anyone associated with the games industry. Instead, it’s hosted by Adam Conover, an actor, comedian, and the namesake of the TruTV show Adam Ruins Everything.
Adam describes himself as a lifelong gamer and his passion for games and his charismatic personality make for interesting listening as he interviews game developers and industry personalities. His outside experience means that he is often fascinated by how people broke into the industry and he likes to drill down into the specifics. Making this podcast a good choice for anyone still early in their career.
The only thing to mention is that Humans Who Make Games is not a continuously running podcast. Instead, it’s split into seasons. With each run of episodes followed by a hiatus, before the next series of episodes is released.
5 – The AIAS Game Makers Notebook
Hosts: Various, Including Ted Price (Board Member of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences and Founder & President of Insomniac Games), Robin Hunicke (Designer and CEO at Funomena), Austin Wintory (Composer on Flow, Journey, and The Banner Saga)
The Game Makers Notebook is a podcast run by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. It has a rather interesting structure of using a rotating roster of hosts to conduct a conversation between two experienced game developers. This means you get a unique combination of perspectives each episode.
Speaking of which, if you are looking for a podcast full of high-profile developers from AAA studios. This is it. The Game Makers Notebook routinely feature developers discussing the creative process behind some of the largest and most successful games of all time. Just looking at the last dozen episodes at the time of writing, there are interviews discussing the development of Apex Legends, Ghost of Tsushima, Doom Eternal, Control, and more besides.
6 – Script Lock
Hosts: Max Folkman, Nick Folkman
Script Lock is one of the more interesting entries on this list, as rather than being about the process of developing a game, it instead tries to examine storytelling within video games.
Looking at games through the lense of storytelling gives a surprising amount of freedom to the Max and Nick Folkman, allowing them to get on a diverse range of guests involved in various different areas of the games industry. Including: Localization, Voice Acting, Costume Design, Production, and more. Although there are, understandably, a lot of writers.
Another fun aspect of Script Lock is that each episode usually includes two guests with similar specialities. Leading to a fun dynamic where the guests bounce off of each other, often requiring far less prompting by the host than other interview-based podcasts.
7 – The Debug Log
Hosts: Andrew Currie, Obinna Oparah, Zack Schneider, Ryan Killgore, Eduardo Castillo Fernandez
The debug log oscillates between interviews and group discussions between two or more of the resident hosts. All of whom are active game developers.
Unlike many of the more freeform podcasts on the list, The Debug Log tend to frame each episode around a specific topic which they interrogate over the course of the episode. Although, as you would expect with episodes that often run to an hour or longer, a certain amount of off-topic discussion does creep in regularly.
More so than any of the other podcasts on this list, The Debug Log often dives into hyper-specific topics such as: ‘Unity Analytics’ and ‘How to Get Featured in the iOS App Store’
The result is that if you pick the right topic, there is a good chance you will get some actionable insights that really make the time you spent listening worth it.
8 – The Sausage Factory
Host: Chris O’Regan
The Sausage Factory is a podcast that provides a peek behind the curtain of game development through a series of interviews with game developers about how they make their games and their motivations for doing so. For the most part, Chris interviews indie developers or ones working at small studios.
Chris always keeps his interviews feeling very intimate and remains charmingly British throughout, which I can appreciate as a (considerably less) charming British man myself. He also breaks his interviews into two parts. The first involving a series of questions about how the interviewee got into game development and why. And the second including questions about the developer’s latest game. He also breaks up each section with an extended section of interstitial music in a style matching the game being discussed. I must admit to so relaxing at times that I managed to forget I was listening to a podcast, only to be shocked to suddenly have Chris start talking again.
We hope you found a new podcast to listen to on this list. Unless you’re a podcast obsessive like me, It’s probably not reasonable to listen to every episode of all of them. Instead, I suggest you find 1 – 3 podcasts you really engage with and listen to them regularly. Then just skim the rest to look for interesting guests or topics.