Podcast Roundup 4: Big Red Kitty; How I WoW

Two World of Warcraft podcasts for you this time, one very focused on a particular kind of character, the other focused on players who don’t fit categories well.

Big Red Kitty
by Big Red Kitty

Big Red Kitty is a blog and podcast about precisely one thing: the hunter class in World of Warcraft. Now, hunters have a certain stigma in the minds of many WoW players, for a simple and often justified reason. Hunters get to tame wild animals and command them as pets, which means that from very early on they have each have a constant companion. They can therefore do alone (with pet) many tasks that others need to get help from fellow players with. As a result, many hunters have a poor grasp at best of the needs of other characters, and of how to work effectively in a group. The abusive slang term “huntard” refers to these, and frankly, there are a lot of them. Enough of them, in fact, that it can be really hard for actually good players with hunters to find groups that aren’t composed of friends, guildmates, and others they have prior attachments with.

So there’s a need for people who understand how hunters work to offer useful advice to those who’d like to learn. This is where Big Red Kitty comes in. He blogs often, and is putting out half-hour podcasts every 2-3 weeks.

There are a bunch of really good hunter-focused sites out there. For instance, Petopia is a lot of hunters’ home away from home, because its maintainer does an awe-inspiring job cataloging the appearance and statistics of every tamable creature in the game, and then sorting and presenting it all usefully. (If you want to see a lot of cool pictures of fantasy animals, go browse the galleries.)

Big Red Kitty stands out from the herd, partly by being a great deal of fun. The guy’s a smart-aleck, basically, and he does it really well. He does home-grown ads, like the one for which blog readers were invited to record themselves saying in the voice of anything that fits in the game, “Can I have five gold?” The resulting ad had the sounds of Big Red Kitty thrusting his way through a veritable crowd of beggars in Ironforge, finally ranting at them that if they want to make money, they should check out the advertisers on his blog. It was genuinely funny and fresh. Lots of people aim for funny and don’t hit it, but (for me, at least) BRK captures the note of entertaining exasperation really well, really consistently.

He’s also great at sorting through masses of information and presenting the important parts. The explanation of shot rotations in episode 2, for instance, improved my game this week. I’d gotten the basic idea that since different special shots have different cooldown rates, there is an art and craft to doing them in a particular order for different situations, but I’d never gotten a calm hand-holding sort of exposition on the details. Now I got it, and I’m doing more damage with less fuss. Other points of his have also been good for my game. I want more! More!

(His set of videos showing newly tamable pets in the current beta test is also funny and informative. He’s got overlays showing each critter’s special attack, and entertaining commentary as new beasts tear up old challenges.)

I’ve gone on at length about this one podcast, I realize, but I want to generalize while I’m at it. This kind of well-focused podcast is a great gift of the net. This is the sort of coverage I’d like to have for all all my interests, really—someone who loves what they’re doing, and is helping others to succeed at it and love it, too.

How I WoW
by Patrick Beja and Shawn Coons

How I WoW is the longest podcast I’m listening to at the moment. Episodes come out every few weeks and range from a bit over an hour to upwards of two. But they’re worth it. Each episode is an extended conversation with an interesting person who plays WoW, about the role of WoW in their life, related hobbies, amusing reflections on days of yore, and all kinds of stuff springing out of that foundation. The time is important, because it allows for the subjects (and the interviews!) to really settle in and warm to the topic, and to go on those fascinating digressions that mean a lot but don’t fit into a shorter format.

The range of subjects is pretty broad. So far they’ve all had some prior connection to the interviewers, but, duh. Patrick and Shawn are part of the crew who do the very successful podcast The Instance, which I’ve reviewed favorably before, and are prominent in the WoW blogging scene, as well as being active players in a big guild with ties to other big guilds.

My personal favorite so far is episode 7, in which pro baseball player and lifelong fan of wargaming and computer gaming Curt Schilling rambles in his delightful way. No sarcasm there, either—Schilling is aware of his good fortune, happy with his position in life, comfortable with himself, very sincerely not hung up on his own ego, and full of interesting insights that apply to people whose lives are very different from his own, too. I think I’ve learned something from every interview I’ve heard or read from him and this one is no exception. But I’ve enjoyed each of the others, too. The hosts are willing to talk about what they’re learning about interviewing, and while they fumble it sometimes, they keep things moving along with good questions and useful follow-ups.

I really, really love shows that let me feel like I’m spending time in good company. Just as I’d like to see more quality focused shows like Big Red Kitty, I’d like to see more of these “let’s get interesting people and turn ’em loose” shows, too. I wouldn’t want a lot of two-hour podcasts, but there’s sure a place for some.

Next week…eh, who knows?


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