THE PCG Q&A
Most games demand focus and attention. Most, but not all. Open-world collect-em-ups, clickers and idle games, action-RPGs, certain MMOs and sports games, anything with crafting—some games can be played on autopilot, giving us pleasant things to look at and do with our hands while only engaging a percentage of our brains. These are perfect podcast games, the kind where you can turn the music down and listen to something else—or even watch something undemanding on a second screen if you're particularly adept at splitting your attention.
Our latest question is: What's your favorite podcast game? If you don't like dividing your brain in half to do two things at once, that's OK too! If you do, here are some of our suggestions, plus a few from our forum.
Emma Matthews: Don't get me wrong, the music in Slay the Spire will worm its way into your brain and have you humming it randomly. That said, after embarking on countless runs, it's nice to change the tune! It's an addictive deck builder and I find that I can easily sink a few hours into it without realising. Apart from me counting in my head, there's not much else going on most of the time. So, Slay the Spire sessions are now my prime time for catching up on my podcast backlog.
Andy Kelly: As nice as the music in Elite Dangerous is, some kind of external entertainment is basically essential for me on those long supercruises. This is a game with a lot of largely uneventful downtime between stuff happening, where all you're really doing is monitoring your speed so you don't overshoot wherever it is you're trying to go. Sometimes it's nice to just listen to the dreamy soundtrack and the sound of your engines humming, but a good show can really elevate the experience. Last time I was deep into Elite I listened to so many episodes of Reply All, which is consistently one of the best podcasts out there.
Alan Dexter: Magic: The Gathering—Arena requires your undivided attention to make sure you're not messing up plays, but that sort of concentration can be draining, and it's hard to sustain for long periods with the very best decks. Which is why I can often be found playing sub optimal piles while watching the likes of Crokeyz, AliasV, and Yellowhat on my second screen. This play and watch combo is often essential when up against control players that have to actually think about what they're doing, as opposed to me throwing down big hairy beasts and forgoing all strategy. Sometimes, despite everything, I even manage to win.
Phil Savage: Because for some reason I still haven't removed myself from this, Destiny 2's worst year, instead I've taken to grinding bounties while watching stuff on my second screen. Sure, the new event is pretty terrible, but it rewards an exotic gun that I've decided I need to collect for reasons I can't entirely articulate. At some point I have to stop blaming the game and start blaming myself, but at least having something to watch while it's happening means it doesn't feel like a complete waste of time.
Rachel Watts: I would normally go for either Minecraft or Stardew Valley but my most recent podcast-game has been Train Station Renovation. It's not a game that demands my full attention but still lets me feel like I've accomplished something, I'm a big fan of House Flipper and Viscera Cleanup Detail for the same reasons. My favourite part is decorating the stations after I've cleaned all the graffiti, picked up all the trash, and repaired the electricals. I upgraded my sponge to a pressure washer when I last played and it gave me so much joy and POWER.
Lauren Morton: I'll draw the Stardew card this week. (Substituted recently for Animal Crossing). Usually I play RPGs with stories and dialogue and such that demand my attention but if I've got a TV show or podcast that I can't bear to feel as though I'm wasting time watching without a second activity, I'll boot up my current farm. I don't need to pay attention to the scene where Linus digs through George's trash. Same with the spring flower dance and so on. Nowadays I've usually got a goal in mind: fight through the mines or build more barrels for wine or give everyone in town their gifts for the day. It's pretty easy to do my chores while marathoning Castlevania or The Witcher.
Morgan Park: Right now, Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Listening to podcasts is my favorite way to play anything singleplayer. After so long, I have a great setup for balancing game/podcast audio and quickly pausing during cutscenes. My current podcast game is Assassin's Creed Syndicate. Cracking Templar heads while hopping around 1870s London is a fine companion to soft-spoken story podcasts.
Jody Macgregor: Diablo 3, or any action-RPG really. The kind of game where the story doesn't matter, and there's plenty of muscle memory repetition. Torchlight, Chaosbane, Sacred 2, I'll play any of them while listening to CollegeHumor or, for something related to PC gaming, the Crate and Crowbar.
From our forum
OsaX Nymloth: While I don't listen to podcasts, I have a series of games that were perfect for running in background or on one monitor while I watched something on second: Football Manager. I have spent countless hours with the series starting from 2005 edition and the amount of documentaries, game analysis or simply let's plays I watched while leading some random lower league team to glory is probably too damn high.
I guess other game that had similar ability to let me play and watch at the same time would be Civilization V. So slow strategy games seems perfect fit. ;]
XoRn: You'd be hard pressed to find a more suitable game for podcast binging than an MMO. World of Warcraft was my podcast conduit for a solid 6 months. It wasn't until I ran out of podcasts that I realized I had almost no love for the game itself and stopped playing. Lol
Frindis: Gartic.io & Surviv.io is the type of game I play that works wells in combination with a podcast. I can have the majority of my focus on the podcast and at the same time have fun playing some very easy going games.
Darkroast: I listen to podcasts regularly when I'm playing WoW. The Official Podcast, 2.0, The WAN Show Podcast to name a few.
Laini: Anything that doesn't have a bunch of story or cutscenes I need to pay attention to usually works well. FIFA and The Binding of Isaac are the ones I play most whilst catching up on a podcast or fifteen.
Zoid: If I'm playing a game while listening to a podcast, the gameplay either needs to be purely mechanical or purely creative. For purely mechanical gameplay I turn to games like Forza Motorsport where I can settling into the rhythm of an endurance race while catching up on my podcast backlog, or Super Mario Odyssey where I can try to cut down my speedrun times.
For purely creative gameplay I turn to games like Fallout 4's settlement building or Minecraft where I can build things with no time constraints, story progression, or action involved.