Last year, I had an idea. Like most of my ideas it was borne out of frustration and dissatisfaction; it was arrogant and melodramatic and took itself too seriously. Eventually it became Unlimited Hyperbole, a podcast which is still best described in those three terms.
Now, after four seasons and twenty episodes, Unlimited Hyperbole is finished. I set myself the goal of being nominated for Best Podcast in the Games Media Awards and I said I’d stop if I didn’t make it. I didn’t, so the show’s over.
A few people have asked why I set that goal and why I’m stopping the show so suddenly. I figure I owe those people an explanation.
Basically, there are two reasons. The first is purely logistical – that the show takes ages to make. As you can probably tell, I take my work far too seriously and set myself very high standards, to the extent that between research, interviews and production there’s an average of 20 hours work per episode. One episode actually involved a six hour interview all on it’s own. And there are five episodes per season.
And, while I don’t mind hard work and I do enjoy what I do, it’s become a lot harder to find the time since I moved out of journalism. Doing another season would require taking time off work and saying no to other things I want to do, like having a life. Frankly I don’t want to make this podcast my priority unless the effort is going in a meaningful direction. So, that’s one reason.
The other reason is a stupid, quixotic one. Unlimited Hyperbole began with the idea that games podcasts could be more than unedited tapes of twenty-something white men talking shallowly about their hobby. It was supposed to be original and different. It’s even called Unlimited Hyperbole as a not-so-subtle dig at the sort of empty games journalism I wanted it to stand apart from.
And I think it’s achieved that now. There were a few weak early episodes, but it matured into something unique and insightful. I’m enormously proud of the last season especially.
That the show fulfilled this vision is why I set a GMA nomination as a condition for future episodes. It’s not that I respect the award; it’s that getting attention from peers is the next logical step for the original idea and awards seem a good way to measure attention. There are two awards for games journalism and I don’t think there’s much difference between them, but the GMAs have a specific podcast category so I chose that one.
Some people have asked why I care about the GMAs, but I don’t.
Or maybe I do? A nomination would have been nice. There is some ego involved here and it’d be disingenuous to disguise it. I am annoyed IGN and GameSpot’s podcasts are considered more worthy contenders and I do question why the same brands have been nominated once again while the likes of Electron Dance, Errant Signal and Five Out Of Ten continue to go ignored…
Or, as a friend put it: “At least OXM will finally be able to reach a mainstream audience!”
But while that ego does exist, it’s not a factor in the decision to stop. This isn’t me throwing my toys out of the pram. This is me deciding the show has reached a conclusion on both an idealistic and practical front.
So, I won’t finish by ranting. Instead, I’ll thank all the guests who appeared on the show, the listeners who supported it and the friends who pitched in with advice when I needed it. I want to thank Jonathan Blow who, along with Dan Pinchbeck, inspired the original concept even if he did repeatedly refuse to come on the show as a guest. Amanda Williams too was enormously helpful during Season Three too and is another person we wish we could have persuaded to get behind a microphone.
I also need to thank Harriet Jones, my partner in melodrama. Her cooler head and quieter approach was too frequently drowned out by my proselytizing and she never got enough credit as a result. I can’t thank her enough for the steadying influence she bought to the show and I hope this isn’t the last time we work together.
Ok. That’s that. What’s next?