Producing Fun 19: Mike Bonet - Podcaster

Producing Fun 19: Mike Bonet  - Podcaster
Producing Fun is a podcast about making tabletop games from a product perspective.
Mike Bonet has been podcasting about games for 14 years. 300 episodes in, he’s a seasoned interviewer who knows how to get the best out of his various game designer guests. This week we talk about all things game podcasting: how to listen effectively, how to get interviewed by a podcast and how he inspired me to pick up the microphone.


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James 00:00
Hi I'm James, and this is Producing Fun, a podcast about making games from a product perspective. Welcome to Producing Fun. My guest this week is Mike Bonet a game podcaster based in New York. Mike has been podcasting in the boardgame world for a long time, recording his first episode way back in 2008, long before podcasts enjoyed the popularity they do today. And when he started, by his own admission, he knew nothing about hobby games. 14 years and 300 episodes or so later, that's very far from the case. Mike is now known for his long in depth explorations of the many and subtle design decisions behind various games. And the names of famous designers and publishers litter the who, what, why guestlist from Jamie Stegmaier, several times, to Matt Leacock and Elizabeth Hargrave to Isaac Childress. But it's not just famous names, Mike is keen to speak to anyone with an interesting story to tell. I have to give Mike the credit for getting me into podcasting too. Early in 2021, he interviewed me about Magnate, while I was already an avid listener to a range of shows it was being on the receiving end of Mike's effortless interview manner that made me realise just what a great experience recording a podcast could be, we were able to get far deeper into a wide range of subjects than I'd experienced before. And I felt completely at ease to do so. After having given it some idle thought, this was the spark of inspiration to finally give it a go myself. As you might expect, Mike is just a lot of fun as a guest. In this week's episode, we get into a range of topics, including his initially chaotic journey into podcasting, how to listen to guests, the role of podcasting in game media today, and his tips for engaging podcasters effectively, if you're looking to expand your platform, as a game publisher, if you're interested in getting into podcasting, or you just want to be invited onto a game podcast, this episode is for you. We join just as I've told Mike, how he inspired me to pick up the microphone.

Mike Bonet 02:14
Oh, that's nice to hear.

James 02:16
Yeah, 100% Because you're naturally very easy-going nature. In terms of a you made me feel really at ease as a guest. It just felt like a really great conversation. It flowed so naturally.

Mike Bonet 02:31
That is, that's on purpose.

James 02:33
Yeah it's really good. It's very much like if I think about how you work on your podcast, it's, it's actually very professional tier, in terms of it's the very natural way you make the conversation. And I would say quite a lot of game podcasts don't quite achieve that, in fact, actually, to the majority of podcasts I listened to, even outside of games don't achieve that because they tend to be a little bit stilted. It's a bit like someone's got their very exact list of questions. And they're going one, and then there's like, an awkward pause question, two. And that approach can work sometimes, I think, because it means that you've got this situation where if there are really particularly key topics you want to cover and you've done your research, then that can be a good way to get those topics out of the guest. But at the same time, it's it's a, I think, a less enjoyable experience, at least from my side, as a guest. And the I don't know, it's certainly my experience and uh, how, how often have you spoken to like this, and certainly, as a listening yourself, it doesn't feel like the optimal listening experience, either.

Mike Bonet 03:28
I think it's a, the way I am on the show is very, it's intentional, as natural as it is. It's also very intentional. I'm like, I love I like the people on the show to feel like they're just having a chat, not having to worry about performing, I find the act of like performing on the, for the Internet to be really annoying, even though I have my own side comedy thing where I am performing. But that's fine, because it's all constructed. And that's okay. But like, I think what happens too with the other shows, because I was listening to a podcast this morning as I was driving my son to daycare. And it also sounds to me like it's in the editing. Like they might have like, they might have been having a like a natural conversation. But like, at some point, they cut at a point that they think is appropriate for that for the guests response. And then you just get the and now I want to ask you about your children. What is it like? And usually, you're like, the questions seem a little disjointed, but I sometimes think it's the editing like there might have been more natural transitions, but they got cut out. And I'm lazy and I and I don't really want to edit at all and editing is takes a while. I don't really want to edit so instead we just even back in the day when I started the show. We just left all the transitions in so so in my show you also get a lot of the awkward um uh yeah, so what I was thinking of how Oh, I forgot the question. Like you I have all those like,

James 05:03

Mike Bonet 05:03
like interjections because I just leave that I do that. But I do think they make for like, a more natural conversation.

James 05:10
Yeah. And I think that these both something that projects authenticity, but actually is more authentic, because there's something about the fact that if you're speaking someone continuously for such a long period of time, it is I think, slightly more difficult to hide things. And I guess I don't mean that in a way where someone's being deliberately deceptive. Exactly at all. I mean, it just in terms of, we have this natural thing we don't want to necessarily instantly give of ourselves and just open up completely. That's just natural human behaviour. And if you've got a nice long, continuous conversation, and you make someone feel at ease, they're much more likely to just open up in that way. And

Mike Bonet 05:50
oh, God,

James 05:50
no, no, go go for it.

Mike Bonet 05:52
I was gonna say, and they like, they don't feel like they're performing. So they feel like they can let their guard down. And it's not like on my show, it's not like I'm ever asking anybody anything accusatory, or aggressive, the most, like accusatory I've ever been, was been with unknown a bunch of episodes with Jamie Stegmaier. I don't know why it was always him. It wasn't a bad thing. It was just that, like, I would ask a question. And he would be like, Hmm, I don't really know why we did that. He's like, you know, that's a criticism we get sometimes, but like, I never really thought about why we did it that way. And I'm like, oh, sorry. I wasn't trying to I was trying to, like, accuse you, of having done a poor job in some way. I was just, I was just asking, like, the question came to mind. And I thought, that's interesting. Um, but I do think you get like, people don't feel like, especially on my shows, people don't feel like they're being accused of anything or that they're there to, like, perform really, either. The, one of the best examples I have, is, it's the audio is, oh, maybe I have the audio recorded somewhere. I don't know everything that is not for the show everything in between the moment when I read my intro, and when I, when I say we're done, everything beyond that, even if it gets recorded, never sees the light of day. I never, ever, ever, that always that just dies in my harddrive. Because that's all sometimes we talk about things and like not big things. But but one of the best examples of somebody I got off topic, but one of the best examples of somebody being complimenting me in that respect about the ease of the easy nature of the show, was Hennig Ludvigsen. He's a Norwegian artist. He did the tiles for mansion of man, the new addition the mansion, the madness, he did the tiles for Imperial assault and a bunch of other games. I asked him if he'd want to be on the show. And he was like, wow, he's like, maybe he's like, I don't know. He was like a little he, his English was fine. But he was like a look. He was like, I think maybe apprehensive about having a, like just having a lengthy off the cuff conversation in English. I was like, Look, I was like, it'll be okay. It'll be fine. Like, and at the end, he went, Well, that was really, that was really easygoing. He's like, I was like I said, I told you, I was like, I told you, it'd be okay. We're just gonna chat. No worries, no performance necessary.

James 08:16
Well, I mean, that's it isn't it is that suddenly that went from being probably more terrifying experience. Typically, if you're not your native language, and you're having to be interviewed about something, to suddenly something that is much easier to deal with. So you're getting the best out of the guest? Well, if they are more comfortable, they are more likely to share how they feel about things. And what's interesting is that I think about some of the most successful podcasts in the world actually tend to work more on that basis, rather than being very highly edited. Like particularly when it comes to interview type podcasts. Like if you're thinking, thinking about who are, who are some of the obviously, you've got, obviously the biggest name of the world would be someone like Joe Rogan. But you've also got people like, kind of, I would say, maybe a rising star podcast, Lex Friedman, if you've heard any of his stuff, he interviews lots and lots of people who did an interview recently with Mark Zuckerberg, he doesn't do but he interviews historians, he interviews, politicians, he's got some huge names that come through on his podcast, his style is very different to yours. He's always like, asking very often very deep, difficult to unpack questions, and then just letting the guests really like, just sit with this big, like, philosophical question for a bit before they kind of reply. But once it's underway, it's again, very much like quite a naturally edited thing. And I would say in the podcast episodes, if they are edited, you can't tell that they're edited. It's like super invisible. And for me, we do a little bit of editing on producing fun in terms of because I record the intro at the beginning, just because I found that some nice way of doing a minute summary of what I think people are gonna get out of it to kind of sell them on the episode a little bit. Sometimes that's pop, that's popular. I never do that. But that's popular. Yeah, I recently think I should do it but not. well, it doesn't, I'll tell you one thing is really seems to me from my point of view this, it does add quite a lot of complexity to production process. Even just doing that means well, okay, I've got to kind of go through this episode summary at the end, work out what are the key points I wanted to bring out? Write, a scripted intro, I do it as like a short like page thing, right? And then writing a scripted intro for it. And by the time I learned that, like, overall, that's got to be an extra hours work minimum for each episode. So immediately, it's like, Well, again, now you're making the decision. Neither of us are being paid to do this, right? And like it like a big scale. It's not like it's our job, That would be really amazing. That was our job. And then like doing that kind of thing, it's just like, No, an extra hour, no worries, right? And maybe you're knocking that would be wonderful.

Mike Bonet 10:43
Oh, my gosh,

James 10:44
we were knocking out several episodes a week. But we can't start today. So there's quite a bit of additional expense. But I did a little poll on Twitter recently to see if the regular listeners if they were, how they felt about it. And it was like 100%, please don't change, keep the intro recorded separately. And I was like, okay, all right. Well, I will, I will not not going to change this, you know, what you could think about doing is just right after the episode ends, like right after the interview is over, just write down this handwrite the main points as you think, I don't know, when you record it, like I don't know, if you've worked, or if you record it, like, like a week or so later or something. But if you do it right at the end, although that's not always like, feasible, because I'm not sure like, Yep, I gotta go right after this episode ends. So this is another challenge I've had in terms of practically, with the podcast is showing you kind of want to do it at that point, been really interesting. And I remember we had a conversation just when I started about getting some tips, and you kind of helped me out a little bit with a few thoughts about about things, ways to approach it, which was really, really helpful, because it's been so useful to learn from you a little bit around those things here is that that is quite challenging. When you're scheduling it, then I also think there's a degree to which there's, there's some helpful distance that one can get a little bit by sort of taking the time out to then think, well, actually, what were the kind of highlights for me in reflection of like that episode? I mean, the one that that has just been published at that time that we're talking today has one that really several moments that when they kind of stuck, stuck stuck out in the episode themselves, basically a pair of game designers who work together at a UK company called stone sword games, they had they really, I mean that my god, their commitment to making great quality product is out of this world. They have something like seven 3d printers in their office, just so they can endlessly iterate miniatures to be like, No,

Mike Bonet 12:28
that's a lot of printers

James 12:30
just together, right. So like they were recruited for the, for example, for their samurai game, they were doing things like going to the Royal Armouries Museum, and like consulting with them to make sure that they had like, designed the swords, correct

Mike Bonet 12:42
holy moly

James 12:42
to the 17th century Japan, and this kind of thing. So they were they were really into, you know very committed to that. And several times that conversation, various things came out that were like, Oh, wow, I never considered this from that perspective before, like at all. And it was like a really big kind of revelation on a couple of times. So I guess as well, sometimes they stand out. But sometimes that other conversation I have with people and it's like, actually, the thing that was most interesting was x, y. And it's useful to them to them, I found that it's the kind of thing that makes sense. I gotta say that adding of extra time, especially to a show you don't get paid for that you do for fun, like as a hobby. That adding extra time is always one of the things I have on now three occasions, a very, very infrequently have I lost the audio, I want to say maybe I only have only lost the audio once on a podcast, like the raw audio. But now on three occasions. This web thing I used to called Zen caster corrupted my audio so badly that I had to go back and rerecord and it was very annoying. And on two of those occasions so far I have re recorded one episode is actually still just sitting in my hard drive. Because I just I can't I don't feel like mustering the energy to rerecord my side of the audio, because it was just because it is really it is I mean it added. It was I think three hours of me like listening to myself, you wouldn't think it's that long. But I have to like listen to what I say. And then I have to, like re say it in a way that's not exactly but like but I also lose a little bit of the like naturalness of the conversation because I like I end up having to cut out all the little the little like, Huh? Oh, yeah. Well, it's interesting. Like, I just cut them off because I'm not going to work if I recorded every single one of those. Oh, yeah, like, but that's one place where you just you're like, it's difficult to even do authentically Right? Like it's difficult to even make the natural reactions and the time recording is Oh, the ha Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Um, it's so difficult to do that. In my most recent episode with with with Taylor shots. I like there was a small joke at one point and I just like when I went back to listen, I just cut the joke. cuz I like, I was like, it's it was funny in the moment. Now that I have to re-say it, it just like it sounds awkward. So I'm just said, Forget it that makes it makes a lot of sense so that you've only lost the audio like couple times out of how many episodes is that? Because you've been doing this for a long while, right? How many episodes is that's a really good question. Um, I feel like I feel like I know I'm in the presence of an experienced podcaster at this point, you don't know how many

Mike Bonet 15:27
I'm on? I have? That's 100 that's 200 that's 240 that's probably 50 episodes. That's three, I'm probably over 300 episodes,

James 15:41

Mike Bonet 15:42
maybe 300 individual episodes, not necessarily 300 guests, because there's some people have returned a returning guests. But yeah, and I started podcasting in 2008 by happenstance, and then it wasn't, it wasn't until 2009 That my co host at the time and I, we decided to start interviewing people, which we had no idea what we were doing. But we started interviewing people and then B and then after that, except for like a two year break. When my when I switched, when I went from one co host to another co host between season seven and eight. Except for that I've been recording since 2000 and. And I've been interviewing since 2009. So it's about it's about 300 episodes.

James 16:28
Does that make your podcast the longest running podcast in the history of games? Like in modern tabletop games? At least? I don't think so. The dice tower, I think the dice tower has me beat. Definitely. I am one of the long I am one of the longest that like just whether people know who I am or not like I have been recording, like ever every podcast that crops up for every like show that pops up. I'm like, I've been recording by probably five years, five or so years longer than a lot of them. Because it just like I don't know, I started doing it. My friend and I, my friend, really we were on this website called fear the boot. She was on this website called fear the fear the boot?

Mike Bonet 17:09
Yeah, I don't even remember it was like an RPG forum or something. I don't remember anything about it. Apparently, it still exists. She was discussing d&d with the people on the website, like on the forum, and was very mad because they said the rules or they said the d&d, the point of d&d was to do all this, like, role playing about diplomacy and like, whatever, all this sort of role playing stuff. And she was like, No, the point is to kick in the door and kill the monsters and steal their stuff. And she was like, the rules state that. So she's like, do you want to do you want to start a podcast? And do you want to do wanna like, it's you talk to me about and I'm like, oh, yeah, that makes sense. And then like, so she's like, do you wanna start a podcast? I was like, okay, so we like recorded on my like, Mac computer. We had no microphone. We use like the native microphone on the computer.

James 18:06
Oh Wow. So it must have been pretty scratchy audio quality back then. Right. No, not too bad. Like it wasn't. It wasn't the worst. It wasn't the it wasn't the worst. I actually found on an old hard drive. I found all of our old show notes for like, because we ended up like we started off in this like reactionary. And I was like, Yeah, you're right. I was totally right. This is exactly. That's exactly what the game is supposed to be blah, blah, blah. And it was very reactionary. And then like we we started then, like deciding we were going to analyse games. And we use this thing called MDA, which is the mechanics dynamics and aesthetic. Yes, yes. I'm familiar with it. Framework. Yeah, I think it's like a, I think it's really like used for video games more. But yeah, certainly, I think that's where it was originally deployed. And it's a kind of analytical framework, right, for analysing games and these kind of these kind of three levels. Yeah, the thing was, we look at like, it wasn't like Hobby games, mostly. Like, it was like, monopoly and life. And so like, a lot of mass market games, because whether people know, people may not know this, I was not in the hobby. When I started, I didn't even know there was a hobby. I didn't even know that. I had played Settlers. I had played Puerto Rico. I had played I think fluxx and Munchkin and zombies. I'd played a few euro games are, you know, sort of hobby games. But I didn't know there was like a hobby. Like I had no idea. I like and then and then it wasn't until like grad school that I like learned. My friend was like, taught me what Carcasonne was. And I was like, What is this? And then I bought it and then I bought Carcasonne and that was took off and suddenly you were hooked

Mike Bonet 19:53
and suddenly Yeah, when I return when I like when I went away in 2012 and then I came back in 2014. We're changing the name of the show. I went from the ninja verse pirates podcast. Because that was our game, my friend and I had to also designed a game.

James 20:09

Mike Bonet 20:09
We like tried to sell it.

James 20:10
And was this ninja verse pirates. And was this an RPG game as well?

Mike Bonet 20:13
No, this is like our card motto is a speed card game about putting down bases and trying to end the game with more bases out than the other person. And so you had bases and then so you could be the ninja or the pirate, or the pirates and you could put the bases down and the Pirates had like ships and then just had like these sort of pagoda looking icons. And then you'd put like, you'd put like a ninja in front of a base like, like a character like, like a pirate would block with protect the base. And then low is like the ninja had like a ninja sword or something and the pirate had like a like a gun. And then like the pirate also had like a cannon ball and it was like the ninja sword could take out the pirate and then the and then whatever the ninjas big, big big blast thing was took out the base and it was just a speed game that you played as fast as you could. And then you threw the end card down to hope that you won it.

James 21:08
Right, Oh, okay, interesting. So like a like a really fast kind of like card game thing. super fast super light. Not necessarily a game I would try to publish today. We took like the idea of whatever we thought ninjas were just like sure that like it was like it was like the veneer of ninjas. You weren't going to museums to do historical research.

Mike Bonet 21:33
Absolutely not I was not I was not asking. I was not asking about like the length the like exact length of like ninj of like weapons that ninjas used. We just were like, Ninjas use Ninja Stars. Like it was like very, you're, you're an idiot. You grew up in white America.

James 21:52
And also ninjas versus pirates, or is probably like, certainly, like I guess potentially anachronistic because they're about 100 years out on on different sides of the planet, I guess. Oh, yeah, this was just like, I mean, this was basically our version. It was like smash up and yeah, totally we had other plans too oh oh to release expansions for different things?

Mike Bonet 22:10
robots vs. Zombies, and there was going to be cave caveman, I think verse dinosaurs and cowboys verse. I don't remember if we were going to do cowboys verse Indians?

James 22:23
I can see the certainly the smash up similarity there. So it's really interesting. So you've changed the format of the show then from about 2014. So to begin with, you were doing this really interesting? I hadn't realised that you would, because obviously you've been interview focused now such a long time.

Mike Bonet 22:38
Why change i, we changed the format to interviews in 2010 2009? I changed the name and the co host in 2014.

James 22:45
Oh, I see. Okay, interesting. I just got my, my my original co host. She was busy with a fam- with their family and stuff. Like I wasn't just they just had no interest to come back. Yeah.

Mike Bonet 22:56
So then, so then my I made a friend at a board game store and I was like "want to come on a podcast?" I thought I couldn't do it alone.

James 23:04
Interesting. Yeah. Well, that certainly was time to think about what were those were those podcasts where when podcasts were kind of first getting going. It did certainly feel to me like they will all tend to be like double handed or three hander shows where there would be a group of people who were like, regularly get together to talk about things, many famous podcasts. I guess it's still like that, in that kind of way. I remember that. What were the some of the really big ones from kind of a few years back, you've got things like pod save America or Chapo trap house is that one of the ones that does, like a political one that I know is like has similar similar guests. So they're gonna have they have they have pretty much static sort of hosts. And then that's primarily what's what it's kind of about whereas increasingly, the format of some one person interviewing someone has become like the dominant form of it. I find that quite interesting how that that that's changed. I think that I think that more people with money, like people who would normally have been doing this on radio, discovered that they could also do it on podcast, and like, instead weren't locked into the radio format. Like they weren't locked into being on a radio. Like having their stuff presented on radio, they could just be like, what if I just presented it? What if I just recorded it made an mp3 and sent it out there? I think to some extent, it's like when like money gets involved in things and like, people with money suddenly figured it out. And suddenly all the all of us who are just like, recording in my, in my like, child in like my, like, I the room I slept in when I was in high school, just sitting and recording, like in my room on like a computer and like, I think we started making our episodes with Audacity, so like, which was free. Or though actually the first episodes I think might have just been like GarageBand. And I had no idea like, we didn't know what we were doing. We were like, you know, we were just like making it up as we went along. And that's I think that's why you get more of the like, now like the much more produced like, a one on one interview podcast? Yeah. It's interesting how that's changed. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense, as you said, it's like kind of matured, isn't it? It's sort of taken over from radio in many ways. And I think there is just something about having those kinds of conversations. I'm very curious, though, that you will also again, think about this as the in as things mature, you often lose some of the slightly innovative chaotic edges of things. Like a really interesting example you're talking about, for example, applying MDA framework to like things like Monopoly, or of a game of life, these are the kinds of games that today are dismissed, so completely out of hand as like, Oh, it's just a load of old family game stuff that that's like, to the modern gamer, that's like seems like prehistory. And so as a result, it's sort of like, you've got to be some strange anthropologist to be interested in this, like dusty old stuff over there. And the idea that you would kind of take them sit, where you're kind of taking them seriously then in that sense, where you're applying this framework in a serious way, like in the sense of going, we actually want to want to talk about these games, you want to know how they work?

Mike Bonet 26:00
Yes, in the beginning, we were we were, we were serious, like we were, like, semi serious in that, like, we were being honest, and we were trying to honestly assess the games. We we weren't hobbyists. So like I didn't, like that's why I said I wasn't in the hobby yet. Like, I didn't have that idea that like oof monopoly. I didn't have like, I don't necessarily have that. I don't have that now, but I hadn't even like, it's just like, that's what those were the games that I knew about.

James 26:29
You didn't know, you didn't know enough about those things in order to be a snob about the, the family came titles, right. In that sense. And and I didn't know any, I think we did. Uno, I think we did Uno, we did Life, we did like, probably parcheesy, like, like, we did these games, because we didn't know any other games. It was actually in the beginning of in the beginning of our when I was ninja verse pirates. When we were interviewing in 2009. In that time, we actually interviewed like, a lot more role playing game designers, because they were easier to acquire. We would sometimes we'd be asked people would email us, and be like "can I be on your show?" Okay. And we'd like there was only the it was the only time when we asked for review copies, because a lot of times it was just a PDF. And so I was like, Okay, well, you gotta tell me something about your system. I don't know anything about it, like, and so we'd get like a PDF, and we'd read it. And we'd be like, okay, and we'd play it maybe maybe once or twice. And then it was like, but we didn't, I didn't know a lot of board games. Like I didn't know a ton of board games at the time. So like, I would have to have had some experience with the board games. I didn't have like a as good as mine. Like now you can just tell me how to a board game plays. And I could talk to you about it because I don't, because I've played enough board games that I like, I know enough about board games to just go off the cuff. But like, back then it was like my ques, If you listened to me in the beginning, we wrote all our questions. Every every every every episode was like 14 questions. We had like a few standard questions. And then we had and then we'd like sometimes would, would tweak and add our own. And my, my co host, she was much more natural. In the beginning, she would just like ask a follow up. And I'd be like, okay, um, what were the challenges that you had, when you were making your game? And the person would say something? I'd be like, Okay, you can ask a question now. Like, I just because I didn't know, I was like, and that's why that's why when I went in, when I came back in 2014, I was like, Well, I have to have a co host. Because what am I going to do if the conversation stalls for a second? Right Okay? Because there's a fear of the silence that the space needs to be filled in, and you're not. So at this point, confident in having that kind of natural flow that I guess you have today? No, yeah, took it go. And then at some point, I stopped writing questions. And I was like, yeah, just I'll just think about I'm think of them in the moment. And you found that less nerve racking, rather than than having them there as a kind of backup, I guess. Because I got better at listening. I got better at. I also realised like at first I thought, Who am I? Like, who am I that these game designers are going to waste their time talking to me? We started off we started off with emailed like, the list, the most indie ish of people we could find. Because we're like, Well, anybody who's made a game that's like really published, they're not gonna want to talk to us because they don't know who we are. We're a bunch of nobodies. Right. And I was like, I was floored. Andrew loonies been I was on my show many times. And I was floored that as I like, made a real game. And yet he's coming on my show. Hell. So and you know, and then like, we had Matt Leacock on in the beginning, too. And like, but I would just sort of be like, why would they say yes, like, why would they? Why would they say yes to talk to? They don't I'm a nobody. Now I'll just tweet at anybody. And just say, hey, Bruno Faidutti, Bruno Faidutti Do you want to come on a podcast one day talk about something like whoever and I thought that was like, holy shit even then when I tweeted like Bruno Faidutti and I asked him, my friend Ben was like, did you really just tweet at him and say, Can you come on a show? And I was like, Yeah, well, what else am I gonna do? But even then I was like, holy crud, he's like a big name. Now I'll just email anybody or tweet anybody? And Like, yo wanna come to talk about wanna come, come talk about that topic on the show. Let's go. What do you think changed there?

Mike Bonet 30:23
I have gotten more comfortable being being a podcaster talking about stuff. I got more comfortable talking to people. I decided that Twitter was a really good use a really good place to find guests. So like, as like, at this point, I'v become like a shark. Like I'd like just, I just like poke my head around. I go. Like somebody might say something I'll be like, just as a most recent episode, I'd post put out the other day, Matthew Dunston who was designed a whole bunch of games he liked was talking. I had an episode with crystal Mazur about what it is like to be a role playing game writer, like what are the nitty gritty about what it's like? Like how do you get paid and what do you look at this than the other thing? So we had an episode. She, Matthew Dunstan's, kind of like, was writing about something about like, what it's like being a game designer, and I made like a reference to Hey, I just had this episode with Crystal Mazor. And then I tweeted at him, I was like, you want just come on the show and just talk like, like, you could say what you're saying in your tweet, but like, off the cuff? And Like, that's how it happens. Like, now I just look anytime I see like, an angle, that could be an interesting show. I go, I'm going to tweet that person see what's going on?

James 31:36
Yeah, I mean, that well, that's great, isn't it? Because Absolutely, why not? I mean, this is the thing I found is that it's enjoyable, right? To be asked to be interviewed. It's for most people, not everyone, but for most people, and it's an opportunity to explore your ideas, talk to someone else bounce ideas around. It's something that I found incredibly useful. I mean, my God, I mean, it's from my side, it's been brilliant and felt like I'm learning so much. And as a guest, I've always really enjoyed that. So I think is one I guess, builds that confidence, you just start asking people, and that's really it's really cool. Because that's, there's there's no there's no secret. There's just not worrying about having to go through a publisher or anything like that. I find it so I am different than a lot of the other podcast people out there in boardgame media, because I only do interviews. I'm not different than everybody. I know what Ben Maddox does something very similar to me. But he has this this very interesting like, what five games did you take to the, to the cabin? Yes, it's this very specific, high kind of concept format. Five games for doomsday I think is the name of it, isn't it? Yes. But he but he has, like he has that as like, that's like the overarching sort of theme of what's going on. But he also is constantly asking questions about the people's backgrounds and their games and their lighting, that he's asking all these other questions as well. But there's not a ton of, I don't, I think a lot of other people who become podcasters in the board game space, a lot of times do so to like, review games. And so like, I'm different in that I don't review, I only interview people. In some respects, the barrier to entry on my show is lower. Like you don't, you don't have to worry about getting me a review copy of anything because I don't, it is no longer a part of what I ask. Because in the back back in the day, I used to like, Look, I just look at my shelf, and be like, Who do I want to try to have on our touring the outlet and let me email Tory Nieman and talk to him about alien frontiers. And so what's what I like there is that like, I'm not the guest doesn't have to worry about like, oh, I don't know if I can get your review copy or like the publisher doesn't have to worry about like, getting me anything. I just I'm like, Wow, just come on and talk and like, and it also frees me up in some respects. Because I can focus on one product. Or we can just talk generally. This is sometimes it's like, do you want to talk about this one product? Yeah. Let's also talk about these other three things that you've done too, because they're interesting, or they're, you know, they're fun. Yeah, you get to take the conversation to go to go where you want it anyway. any direction you want. When you talked earlier about listening about really listening. What does that mean?

Mike Bonet 34:29
I see you're employing the skill.

James 34:32

Mike Bonet 34:34
It is fun, I think on my show, and for me, at least, it is finding a place to get the person, the guest to want to elaborate further on things. So it's listening to the thing that they're saying and then trying to keep them sort of talking about the thing or or Have them sort of have that have that thing, kind of meander a bit more? That's a really? That's a really dumb answer. A really dumb answer. Don't cut this. Don't cut this,

James 35:16
No I'm gonna keep this in. Because I think it's a really interesting question. I think the way in which you are sitting here I say, struggling a little bit to answer it is because I'm it's a stinker of a question to start by saying, but I think it says something to it right about, I kind of know what you mean, when you said meandering? And yet that's not quite right. Is it? Because like meandering suggested it's sort of now all over the place? Is it something about natural flow in some way?

Mike Bonet 35:41
Something it's something it's about, it's about keeping. It's about keeping the conversation going. And it's about like, it's about letting the guest continue to, like, highlight themselves. Because effectively My show is like, advertisement for yourself without like, a paid advertising. But it's like, So, as you're listening to the what the guest is saying, You're you're always trying to like, find a place where you could get them to say more about something that seems interesting. And to think about, like, what is maybe what is the guest trying to say underneath it all? Or what its elements of what the guest says, maybe seems less like a not less normal, but surprising, or like, out of left field, and it's something that you can like, be like, Hey, you just mentioned this thing? And did you ever think about this, that and the other thing when you were designing that game, and sometimes the person's like, No, you know what I never, I never really thought of it wasn't until I put it all together that I realised. it's a hard skill, I get a lot of practice to because I, besides being a podcaster, I'm also a teacher. And I have to do with, I'm an English teacher and so I have to deal with students. And I deal with their college essays. And a lot of times, it's a matter of listening to them, and getting them to understand how to bring out something interesting about themselves, or bring out something mundane in an interesting way.

James 37:19
So these like statements they're writing in order for entry to college, that's kind of that that's a big statement, you have to make. Yeah, to get the university to be impressed with them. And hopefully, they get through the kind of the selection process. Exactly. So it's similar. So I get that I do that practice a lot from like, listening. And I'm saying, okay, so you said this thing. Great. Now how let's let's, let's take this, no, don't, don't, don't go off on don't go off to the left, don't let's, let's keep trying, let's keep this train going a little bit. And let's see where this goes. Because this is, this could be interesting. Or this could be this could really work. Like in terms of its student writing, it's a matter of finding something that they can put together in a final product. On my show, it's really more of a matter of like, it's like the practice of moving down that track. And not really worrying. Because there's no like, the final product is still an episode. But like, that episode is nobody uses my episodes to get into college, as far as I understand. Wow. Right? Like, I don't know. Exactly. Maybe they hire nice, exactly. Some game designer,

Mike Bonet 38:21
but anyway, like, no one's no one's using my episodes, for anything like it. It's not being used evaluative ly, whereas like a college essay is being used. It's like somebody's evaluating it.

James 38:34
Yeah. And they're evaluating against some pretty specific criteria with like, a specific purpose. But I guess, I mean, the episodes are evaluative to some extent, I guess, even aren't they I mean, you've talked about it's sort of free advertising for someone to kind of come on, that presumably means that there are people listening to them, and then they're making judgments or decisions, you know, based on what they're listening to. Right. That is, at the very least they're being influenced by how that person comes across, I guess, in future decisions,

Mike Bonet 39:04
probably from like the consumer, probably could from the consumer end more So

James 39:08
you think so? not not the industry side,

Mike Bonet 39:09
maybe you know what I would love to know if anybody is listening. Now, if anybody has gotten published, if anybody's gotten any design work, because the publisher heard heard you on my show, I would love to know that. That would be cool. I do have a lot of I think a lot of designers and I do have a lot of industry people that listen, not to every episode, but to I think, specific episodes, because I think my shows also like the dice tower would have an episode that they're going to like we're going to talk about the top 10x Y and Z Games. And we're going to talk about like, the games the most the the most interesting games that are coming out at GenCon next week or something that I like, but it's very like topical, and mine is my focus, my episodes are always focused on either a person or a topic or a game And so I think for the most part, like if you have no interest in Torah Neiman's, for example, if you have no interest in Tor Neiman's, alien frontiers, then you're not going to listen to that episode. Probably because you're just gonna be like, Well, I don't care. I don't care about that game. Or if you have no interest in role playing games, you're not gonna listen to any of the episodes where I've interviewed role playing games, role playing designers. I mean, I'm not saying you shouldn't, I'm saying you should listen, because I think there's a lot of interesting parallels between various game design and things. I think there's a lot of interesting parallels, there's a lot of things you could take. But I think for the most part, that's the way my episodes are used, like people like people like Oh, Taylor shots, I want to listen to that one, because I'm really interested in the game. Or I'm really interested in this person.

James 40:44
Like, like a whole designers like body of work, for example, if you have a designer, you tend to like their work, they've been interviewed by you, you might be listening to your podcast, because, oh, I really do want to dive deep, right? I mean, ever since when you interviewed me, the sense I had is that we actually went pretty far. So some interviews I've had have been well often by the nature of the medium, they've often been shorter, that they're more like high level about, tell us a little bit about magnate, for example. Whereas I felt like when we discussed about magnate, we also went quite deep into the influence the really deep into the influences behind it. And like where I live even and how the place I live and in Croydon exactly influenced the game, right, that was like a good example of that. So it's kind of unlike the dice tower, you're going, you're not trying to go for things that are more like trending topics, they're much more like deep dives into particular people's careers. And I guess they're not especially timed with particular high point commercial things, right. So like you're recording an interview with a designer, and then waiting until the new their new game is released as part of a coordinated PR effort, right? It's just more because, guys, this would be a cool person to speak to, that'd be really interesting. Let's have a conversation.

Mike Bonet 41:51
And that's not to say that I don't coordinate with people, sometimes I do get a lot of people who want to come on, to talk about to be interviewed about their Kickstarter to talk about it. And then a lot of times people will be like, Hey, could you release the episode? You know, in August when our Kickstarter is live? And I'm like, Sure. Sounds good. I mean, most people are they most people are like, I mean, you can release it whenever you want, it would be really helpful to us, if you released it in August, or, you know, whatever them whatever the month is, mostly I just, I'm like, sure, whatever you whatever you want me to release in August, I'll release in August, I can fill the time, or I don't sometimes I don't. I've had, I've had some months where I have one episode come out.

James 42:33
That's interesting. So you don't feel like you hold yourself to like a regular release schedule.

Mike Bonet 42:38
I've gone back and forth with that, in the beginning, we had a regular release schedule, I probably still have a regular release schedule listed on my website, because I don't update that. I did have a regular release schedule. And then at some point, you know, my day job, I became a teacher in 2016, podcasting took a little bit of a hit here on there, because it was just harder to put the episodes, it was harder to get the time to do the episodes, because a lot of my time was devoted to becoming a better teacher. My time still devoted to becoming a better teacher, but I'm more comfortable there. And then when the pandemic hit, I actually almost quit about 2020 I almost quit, I almost said forget it. I just don't want to do this anymore. And then like I interviewed the Ragnar brothers, I interviewed them in like April, March or April of 2020. And then for a while, I was putting out five episodes a month. And then again, the school year, like this past school year hit and some of my my months wouldn't go like this. And now I'm like, I don't know, I just sort of released I most podcasts are much better at their audience knowing when to expect an episode. I am really not good at that. And which probably limits my growth as a podcaster, it probably limits my growth. I've been popular and I've been like, popular is like, moderately popular. But like I've like noticed my numbers, sort of I'm making this hand motion with like a wave. So nobody can see this. But this is a terrible podcasting. But

James 44:15
he's going to point out I'm gonna say it's a note for the listener right now Mike is making lots of my waves and it's clearly implying to me a wave, ups, very effectively.

Mike Bonet 44:29
Ups and downs. Oh, yeah. Anyway, so. So I like I go back and forth with release with regular release schedules. I just don't, I don't always I'm not always able to do it. Oh, it's easier for me to just do it when I can.

James 44:42
But I mean, this is part of the thing about it being a hobby, though, right, is that it's not like your income depends on you having a regular release schedule. And it's not even part of a wider commercial strategy. So it's not really I guess as important, I'm really curious to know, kind of interested in why particularly when the pandemic came along, you felt like kind of less up for doing it. Because I would suggest, one of the interesting things about it is almost the pandemic almost inspired me to do a little bit. Because early last year, when, after being on your podcast, One of the things I thought was like, hmm, I'm kind of waiting for a lot of stuff on Magnate to get done. And this is something I can do from home remotely quite easily. So after, after we, you interviewed me. So I know I should just, I should just give this a go. Because it seems like, right, I did try this, let's just let's try this. Because I had been writing a lot of blogs that was kind of my medium. And I still, I do enjoy writing. But I was finding the exercise of writing. Just super, super, super time consuming. And I thought, well, I'm kind of going to enjoy the conversation. And then afterwards, particularly if I can get someone to edit it other than myself, I did all the initial editing, but now I get someone else to do it. They would be a, it actually wouldn't be any more time consuming, I think overall are probably about nets out and about even to writing a blog post maybe maybe slightly less consuming for me, time comsuning for me for me now. But that was that was very much want to do it. And I thought it was great. So I mentioned today why to you, I guess you kind of lost your mojo a little bit or you lost your enthusiasm for it.

Mike Bonet 46:18
I lost the Mojo in early 2020, late 2019 The Mojo was tailing down. I think. I actually think between 2020 I think between 2019 and like, and like 20 and 2020 I think I think I might have released a really small number of episodes. I'm gonna look real quick because I can do that real fast. I had one in January. in 2020. I had none in February. I had none in March. Yeah, the everything was kind of, I don't know, before that I felt I think I felt like my like, what was I like, I think I felt like what was I doing? What am I doing this for? Like, no one's I mean, it feels sometimes like, I'm not gonna say no one's listening, because there are people who listen to me. And I don't want to be disrespectful to that. But like, I appreciate that their time and yours. But I sometimes I felt like, who's listening? Why am I wasting my time, like, it's a lot of energy to put these episodes together and to find guests. And to think about why it's why this guest is interesting. I had a child at the time who was young and constantly eating up a lot of energy. My wife was pregnant with the second child. And that, and actually, the pandemic actually helped me podcast more. So you were right, you were right the pandemic did, because it also like because I didn't have to like, you know that being a teacher, I it takes me an hour a little over an hour roughly to get to work. So like, I'm waking up at five in the morning, have to be at work at 8:30. Have to hit the traffic. When I get home, I deal with the kiddo until the kiddo goes to bed, then I probably have grading and leaves a lot of energy spent doing other things. And then when I was when we were when the pandemic hit, I think I said to myself, I don't remember what I remember if it was me or the Ragnar brothers who reached out I forgot who reached out. I might have reached out because they were talking about Rome to do it. But they had a game about Rome. And I really like Roman history. So like, let me just I was like, let me do like an episode or something like that. And I was like, let's see how this goes. And then I like, I was like, Oh, it's so much easier because I'm at home all the time. And I get what I was what I would wake up for like, my son wasn't going to daycare because because we weren't sending anybody anywhere. I was this is really easy to podcast. I'm like, I'm home all the time. I was like I don't need to like, like, sure I'll stay up until midnight. Whatever. I don't have to wake up at five. So you're right. So you are right. The podcast, the pandemic did. Kickstart i think i think i recorded 200 episodes just in the pandemic.

James 49:06
Wow. So actually that

Mike Bonet 49:09
I might be I might be lying a little bit

James 49:10
I guess even if even if one a week that was got to be about 100 Like if it's become that consistent again right now it's July 2022.

Mike Bonet 49:21
Every season where I have like my big this is like an a holdover from when I was the ninja versus pirates. Every season is 10 episodes except for seasons two to seven. Because back in the day, my friend and I we would record a whole bunch of episodes and then we would just stop recording for a little while. So we just call it a season by but for everything from season eight to the to the current season season 33 is 10 episodes. So like I can just If I know when the pandemic started what season the pandemic started.

James 49:53
Oh, well, that would have been April 2020. So that's just two years and three months ago. Jeeze, this is season 23 is probably season 20. No Season 21. Yep. Season 21. About season 21. So from 21 to now 33, or from 21 to so 21 to 32, which is about 110 episodes. Yeah. So it's interesting isn't it that it's actually that's quite a substantial portion of all the episodes you've done. So that that which itself is that I find that quite interesting. When you talk to people who think about the Kickstarter you mentioned, and people who are coming to you sometimes and saying, Look, could you release the episode around this? Do people come to you quite a lot, then is that something you're quite happy with that people come to you and just say, Hey, we've got a game coming up. We'd love to talk to you. If we can.

Mike Bonet 50:45
Yeah, I'm fine with it. I don't think I've I don't think I've ever really said no. I've mostly always say yes. Usually, I'm trying to think about how the episode, like how I can come up with an interesting angle for the episode. So I learned from an error when I was back in the ninja verse pirates days, we had Steven Bonocore sent me and my co host an email, because we were probably one of the few board game podcasts out there. Now there's a lot. Um, so sent me an email saying, hey, could I be on your show? And we were like, sure. Here's our list of questions. And because he wanted to talk about code 777, which stronghold was putting out at the time. And he goes, he goes, Hey, he goes, Yeah, those are, those are great questions, but I'm not the designer. So like, here's the questions I'd really rather talk about. And it was it was I was questions that like, I went to his website, I went to strongholds website, and all the questions could be answered on the website. And I said, Well, then why do I want to do the interview? Like, and we were like, well, you're not the designer. So that's not interesting to us. And so we were very, like, limited. We were like, in our brains, we were like, you have to be the designer. We only want to talk to the designer. And then later, I finally had Steven on the show. We talked about this, but I finally had him on the show. And I like pointed out my error that I like was like, You know what? I gotten better at looking at something and going hmm. Okay, that's the angle I'm gonna go for. I'm gonna go for this angle. This is why I think this is interesting. As opposed to sitting there and sitting there and thinking, Ah, that doesn't Nope, that doesn't fit. That doesn't fit my preconceived notion. I think it goes to the listener. You know, I've had like, people email, and they're like, they're like this, this 17 year old kid designed this game, Do you want to interview me for it? You know, the kid is like, hi. You know, I had a couple of kids who were like, teenagers who were like, I designed this game. And I looked at the game, and it may not be the game I would choose to buy. Like I would look at and be like, seems like a pretty like, mass market-y style game. Like, it's not necessarily maybe a game that I personally would have purchased. But I went but you're, You're a teenager designing your first game. What are your influences? What are you playing? Like? What are how are you getting to this? people email me and are like, hey, I want to here's my here's my Kickstarter, would you mind having me on your show? And I look, I'll take a look at the Kickstarter. I'm like, Are you look whatever the whatever details are sent to me. And I, A lot of times, I'll be like, Yeah, let's I like it takes me some time to think about like, what's the interesting angle that I'm going to approach this pod this episode with? And so once I find that in my head, I go, okay, good. That's what I'm doing. Like is that just say yes, yeah. And I know, it's I know, it's promotional for them. The only thing I ask, only thing I asked if you ever have me on your Kickstarter, please include my episode, somewhere in your like, your interviews, media thingy on your Kickstarter page. Just put me up there strike. Talk to Mike

James 53:59
100%? That makes all the sense. I think that's really interesting. Talking about the the finding something kind of really interesting, because that's what I found is that the lesson seems to be almost everyone I speak to there is something very interesting to be teased out. There's even something to be interesting teased out that is that is game industry related beyond just the person being interesting person in general, right. What do you think that people who want to be guests on podcasts, let's say because they are interested in the kind of promotion? What should they be doing to help hosts find that?

Mike Bonet 54:32
The best thing I could say is I would do whatever it is that you do somewhere within the hobby, whether you're like a game designer, a publisher, an artist, maybe you write maybe you're working on a PhD, you know, like whether you're like, I would say just do that thing that you think is just Do that thing. Just keep doing that thing. And I would also say don't be afraid to just ask. Don't be afraid to just ask. Hey, can I come on your show? Bez, I don't know. Do you know Bez?

James 54:35
Yes, I know Bez very well.

Mike Bonet 55:14
Bez, she, I got an email from her back in 20. Like, I don't know, 2014, 2015 I think suggesting some either topics or suggesting some guests. I don't remember the email at the moment. But like bez like was like, Hey, I listened to your show. I really like it. Talk about this thing, like, gave some like feedback on the show. And like, at, like a, I don't remember when I first had her on. But a few, a year or something. months or so later, I like emailed bez and was like, Hey, you design games? Do you want to come on and talk about your games? So I think like, don't end and don't be afraid to just ask to be on the show. I've had people who just are like, hey, I really want to I had a series of episodes with Joe slack. And he'll come back on at some point. But we did three short episodes together. Because we recorded them all in one night. They don't sound like they're recorded in one night, man. Um, no. But we recorded three short episodes in one night. And he emailed me and said, Hey, I have this idea to do these three episodes. Could I come on your show and do that? And so and so I said, yeah, like I had Joe on before. So I knew who Joe was. But I think sometimes as long as you like, either you're doing something that somebody might might notice. Or you have an idea. You know, reach out, reach out or keep keep on. Keep on keeping on the reaching out. Also, it's very helpful to like I like when people reach out because I don't always have to think of, I don't always have to think of who to interview.

James 56:56
That's an interesting point, isn't it? Like, I think is,

Mike Bonet 57:00
Can I be on your show? Excellent. Check one off for the month.

James 57:03
One, one. Yeah, that's the thing is that's I've Well, I mean, this is an under underrated thing. It fits into a general pattern. I would say a lot of people are very nervous to ask people for things because I think they assume I don't want to bother them. Whatever I'm doing is not as important as if they're too important, something like that. And they don't realise that often. Just by asking to do something, you're often helping someone in certain situations. And for example, this one is a good example of that, where it actually helps the podcaster for someone to reach out and say, Hey, can we potentially do this. And that's something where it's interesting. I've had a few people asked me and I'm there's a few people I need to get back to actually who've asked to be on and wants to, I want to talk to the difficulty I have a little bit is I've kind of got a bit of a plan in my head about, okay, but I want to make sure we have this constant nice smattering of people from across the industry. And I don't want to make sure it like, sometimes I'm a bit aware of like, oh, it's like all been publishers the last three episodes, or it's all been designers. And the whole thing is to kind of get away a bit from game designers. But it's just because I'm really aware of that space is a little bit more explored already. And I'm trying to think I'm trying to find people who have slightly more unusual roles in the industry. And so to anyone who's listening who's asked to be on that's something where it's, that's why partly that's in my head, and I will get back to you. But it is, it's interesting, something else that you said as well that it is definitely mentioned earlier that I find really interesting. Is this thing about sometimes feeling like you're shouting into the void a little bit, maybe that is something I've felt slightly but it's interesting. The other hand, it's amazing when people tell you, Oh, actually, I do really listen, I had a guy I met an event I'd never met before. And he said, I know who you are, you're James, I recognise the voice. And you do you do the producing fun, I really, I really enjoy it. And that was just wonderful having someone come up and say that, so it was a listener. So that was really, really cool. We then chatted and actually he played tested one of my games as well, which was there was a play test day and it was just so cool, like meeting someone. And hopefully, hopefully will also see each other again at more playtesting events. And it's nice to get that to get that little bit of feedback, isn't it? I think that that's quite important. I don't use Oh yeah, go for it.

Mike Bonet 59:21
I was just I had a game designer recently who tweeted at me and said there's a there's a bra there's a there's an empty space, there's a blank space at the 48 minute mark of your most recent episode. This is the second most recent this is the episode with Taylor shots. And it was a matter of because little little little background info for the for the listeners to tailor shots interview is one of the ones I had to redo my entire my entire section. In my moving of the pieces, I just left like a three minute gap by accident. But it was nice because it told me that this person was it told me at least one person was listening. I think having people respond to you in some way, email or, or some other way. And I don't have a ton of ways to respond. But like, I mean, you could tweet at me that's that's one way. But like, I think having people respond to you is really cool. As long as it's always gonna be like something like, Hey, I listened, hey, that was really interesting blah, blah. And then you're like, cool, you got a little validation. I'm not just doing this for my own self. Whoo, yay. But it's a double edged sword because there are a lot of people out there who face a lot of like, racist comments and misogynistic comments and stuff like that. And so and then sometimes you're like, Oh, I'm really glad I don't have a lot of people talking to me. Because, well, some people have that problem of like, they have to face racism and stuff like that. And that's like, and that's like, Oh, they're listening because they hate, ah crap. Oh, so it's a it's double edged.

James 1:00:52
Well the sad thing about that is that almost certainly, for in almost any situation, the number of people who have quietly enjoyed something, and then just not mentioned it, probably out numbers massively the people who are yeah, getting in touch to basically be a dick, I mean, whatever other way to, you know, think about it to just come and you know, just really just to, for some sick pleasure, right? And I think that Well, that's, that's probably worse than the most awesome thing was was meeting someone in real life, because generally, generally, people in real life mostly aren't going to do that. And this is a bit of a phenomenon, mostly of the internet, which has empowered people to come out and say things to people that they just wouldn't have dreamed saying in person. Mostly,

Mike Bonet 1:01:35
it's empowered assholes.

James 1:01:37
So it's empowered. It's although Yeah, because

Mike Bonet 1:01:38
Oh, to, and people to act like assholes

James 1:01:40
because it's kind of empowered everyone including the assholes. Right? Like that's, that's that's part of the problem. So So you get this this thing where people will come out of the woodwork to say awful, awful things to people.

Mike Bonet 1:01:51
Yeah, that's yeah, it is that double edge sword, and on one hand, I don't think I would have ever interviewed as many international guests I've ever interviewed.

James 1:01:58
Yeah, very true.

Mike Bonet 1:01:59
But on the other hand, a whole bunch of people have to deal with assholes constantly. And the assholes can like make a new name. And they can come back at you like you just can't, like you can't like shut off that asshole for good. Whereas like, at least in person, you can like, you could walk away. You could even be like, security, please escort this asshole far away from me.

James 1:02:20
That's one of those things, isn't it? I guess that's that's a that's a that's a that's an internet hard problem that we're not going to solve today? I would, I would, I would suppose.

Mike Bonet 1:02:29
And I don't think it's not a problem. I'm going to face too much. I'm a white guy. So I'm pretty, like, pretty safe from a lot of the assholes just by virtue of not being someone who's going to challenge their preconceived, hateful worldview.

James 1:02:47
Hmm. Yeah. What do you see the role of the kind of podcast world in the game industry? Because this is something I think about a lot like, is it like one of these things? It's like I kind of crucial information conduit like how BGG is sort of a bit like that. At least it seems that way sometimes. Or is it? What do you think the influence of it is?

Mike Bonet 1:03:10
I think it mostly is there to empower community. That's, that's the big that's the big smart answer. I'm gonna give it like, I think it empower. I think it's mostly to empower communities in some respects, because Podcasts can I mean, shut up and sit down, have a convention because they're a popular group of podcast video game content creators, right? Like they have a convention because like, the dice tower has a convention. Like as a number of conventions, actually, like the dice tower has multiple conventions like so I think that's its main role, I think. I think it fills the time for some people, like myself yourself, like it gives us something to do it gives us something to it gives us some way to like engage in in the in the industry in the hobby in that sort of way. But I guess for the I think for the people listening Oh, that's I think it's it's a matter of like building like a community. It's like a matter of like, building something that is, you know, people can get like people can like, gather behind and that like, what's the secret cabal Is a podcast, they have like a meet up at GenCon or I don't know if they still do but they had the last time I went to Gen Con I know they had it. And I went to it, because I was with I was with Emerson Matsuchi and he was like, going to the secret vault, Cabal meetup want to come and I was like, okay, so we went, it was cool. Like everybody like gathered together and like, you know, I think that's the most thing because I think sometimes like except for interviewing people who have made games or produced art or done some actual physical like work in that space. I am not presenting a ton of expertise. I might be presenting expertise right now on podcasting. But I'm not necessarily doing a ton of expertise. Like when I talk about games, mostly because I haven't really made a game. I've made games, but I haven't produced an actual physical game.

James 1:05:17
Yeah, well, you've made that was the ninja and pirates game. That is the game.

Mike Bonet 1:05:21
Yeah, I know, technically, we did produce it. Like there are physical there were physical copies produced like a but was it like, did I like, get price quotes? No, we went to like, the local printer and like, stuck stuff in a Ziploc bag. Like, you know, it's very, like DIY

James 1:05:36
You weren't trying to get it published and into retail stores, for example,

Mike Bonet 1:05:39
I didn't even know that was I didn't even know that was possible. I couldn't even I didn't even think that was I thought I was like, I don't know how you get a game into stores, we're just gonna make it put it into a bag. So I think that's really the role. I think it's about creating community.

James 1:05:51
I think it's quite powerful in that regard. And I do think it does mean that you can really get into topics as well, in a level of detail, that's not really possible elsewhere, I feel like even the writing a blog, you can put forward your view, and you can put forward something pretty precise and nuanced, actually. But what you don't get is that free and easy exchange of nuanced ideas that's possible on a podcast. And I think that is quite unique.

Mike Bonet 1:06:19
And to be fair, it's kind of fun to sit on a podcast and talk about stuff. Like I used to be I had a college radio show for like three years in college. And it was super fun. There, we were aiming to do more like, we were aiming to be more like shock jockey, but, but we were aiming to be like entertaining. So this is the same, it's very similar to the podcast, you're sort of trying to be entertaining. But when you're interviewing somebody you're like, you're less about like, because it's not instant feedback, because you'd like you have to, like record it. And then later, people maybe react to it. You're not You're just sort of like, you know, you're just trying to find your way of like, contributing to the hobby in some way. You know, and hopefully, hopefully building some kind of community with people. You know, who might be listening who maybe listened to you, maybe you get like, maybe you have a meet up or something or, like, you know, that guy who you said came up and said hello to you and said I recognise you and like, he knows who knows, like in the future, maybe you end up like you see him again? Maybe you maybe end up playing games with them? Or Or? Or who knows, like, maybe you maybe you end up having like, a little table one day at a maybe a local UK. Croydon, maybe board gaming event, you gather with the people who like who listen and you play some games and like, who knows? Right? It makes them community. Yeah.

James 1:07:44
Yeah. I mean, which is, you know, I think that is, that's kind of that's internet magic, isn't it? I think when you can do something like that. That's very cool.

Mike Bonet 1:07:52
Hopefully. Yeah, that is that is the that is the one great thing about the internet.

James 1:07:57
I'm very aware that we're beginning to run short, a little bit of time here. So before we wrap up, I guess, I guess I'd like to ask you to kind of top tips questions. And the reason I'm gonna get to two is because I think we've covered maybe some of it. But I'm really curious for people to hear kind of what your top three tips would be for not only people making games who want to get covered or interviewed in different ways, but also, I guess, for people who want to start their own podcast, right, like there's been this explosion in podcasts, and there is probably still a huge amount of room for more. There's always like endless new formats and new things people can try out. So first, I guess for for game creators, what are your kind of top tips for them, and then also for people who maybe want to get into podcasting

Mike Bonet 1:08:47
for game creators to be to to get yourself on a podcast? Biggest thing is reach out. That's your biggest that's my biggest tip is send a tweet, send an email, send an Instagram message, whatever it is, don't I would I would actually tell people who are making games, especially people who are making games and are like, not the Rob Daviaus who are like, making games that they know are going to immediately get covered by the biggest podcasts, right, like dice breakers writing an article and Kotaku is writing an article like the people who are gonna get covered by the biggest for the people who were like, there's a lot of people come on my show are like, like people, I don't think they're huge. I think they're like, they're like they're making games and they're doing their cool thing, but they're like much smaller, smaller, smaller indie creators. So like, reach out and especially reach out for reach out to podcasts like mine that are smaller, perhaps, because it becomes kind of a mutual thing where we kind of help each other like, you know, I put out an episode with you and you give me content, which also gives you to an opportunity to talk about the thing, right. The other thing is, I'm on a lot of media lists. Because I get I'm always, I always get Gen, I even I'm not going to Gen Con but like I'm getting a ton of like Gen Con related emails now, because I'm a show, and that's fine, whatever. Don't say, do your podcaster. I love your show. Could you please announce my latest Kickstarter on your news segment? I swear I listened to every minute of your show. Please announce during your session. Don't that's one of the things we're moving to get like, I don't I don't care if the email is a clearly copied and pasted. It's a generic. I don't care if it's a generic creator email, like an email to all podcasters. That's like that. That's like inauthentic blowing smoke. Right. You were talking? You talked about authenticity before? Like, that's like an inauthentic amount of smoke you're trying to blow up my ass? Like, don't tell me. Oh, you love my show? It's so great. Could I just please announce your Kickstarter

James 1:11:09
on your non existent new segment

Mike Bonet 1:11:12
On my non-existent news segment. Because you have no idea if I have, one that tells me that there's a lot of shows that have very similar formats. I don't have that. And I pride myself on not having the same things that every other show has. I don't even ask people. I don't even ask people. What what are the last games you played? Or like? I don't even ask people like what got you into the hobby really anymore? Because it's the most boring answer on Earth. Don't don't reach out in a way that feels inauthentic. Like, it's fine. If you just want to reach out and talk about your thing. Sometimes, like I had, I got an email, it was a generic creator email, right? For the product called dized.

James 1:11:53
Oh yeah, know that one, it's like,

Mike Bonet 1:11:55
I think it was a finished...

James 1:11:56
It's an app tutorial system, isn't it? Yeah.

Mike Bonet 1:11:59
Yeah. It's an app tutorial system. I got a generic email that was about dear creator, then explained dized, but it didn't like try to blow inauthentic smoke.

James 1:12:09
Yeah. They just said, here's a thing. Are you interested in talking about it?

Mike Bonet 1:12:13
Here's the thing. And it was clearly an email aimed at a list. But like, guess what? I saw it, I went, well that's interesting. And I emailed back, right? And I've done that where I've emailed people and said, like, well I don't have a new segment? Do you want to come on my show and be interviewed long ago? Then explain what the heck's but like, you know, I don't I don't be in a because I know there are creators out there, I've seen people say it on Twitter, there are creators out there who would just not respond to it, they immediately bin that email. So reach out and don't reach out in an inauthentic way. And reach out and reach out to small podcasters. Reach out to people who are like, who aren't the biggest thing and the, you know, don't if the if the dice tower is not covering your game, try to find someone who will cover. Those are the big those are my biggest for game for game creators or publishers, anybody who makes games in some respects. But also don't, don't worry. Don't worry, even though you're not either a designer or a publisher that you don't have something interesting you can add. I've had a lot of artists on I have not had artists on in a little while. I've had PhD. I've had Tanya Popa who's a PhD, researcher on games, and things like I've had people on who are not necessarily just creating games, I've had people on who are making things, who are tangential to games. Right? They maybe they're making, maybe they're making one of the components. One of the things I like in your I remember early episode, one of the early episodes was you've interviewed people who like who do manufacture. Yeah, I think that's interesting. Like, I think sometimes people like that don't necessarily think they have anything to add, and you're like, but manufacturing superduper manufacturing is really important,

James 1:13:53
it's like it's the thing that went to where the game actually goes from being a sets of files to being a real thing

Mike Bonet 1:14:00
to a real thing. so so don't worry that you don't have something interesting to add. Because, you know, you might have an angle that the other person might see that you don't see. Or maybe you do see. And then you said for people who are making

James 1:14:14
podcasters. Yeah, come on that, you know, that's very much an area of expertise for you. So

Mike Bonet 1:14:18
that is I actually, I was doing the tabletop mentorship. I was mentoring somebody about making a pod. I don't remember whatever happened to the podcast because I, the person never reached out again. So I don't know if it ever went anywhere. I would say for podcasts,

James 1:14:35
there's Tom Vassal that's not

Mike Bonet 1:14:36
a little guy named Tom vassal, not. Tom's very nice. Tom's very nice guy. So one, I think for podcasters. To start a podcast, you have to be really willing to probably potentially have no listeners for a little while. You have to be willing to just be like, to just be like, maybe it's just for me, I don't know, a lot of cases with my show with, with all of the things that I've done because I also have like a secondary podcast, and I have a comedy thing. I don't know who's listening. But guess what? My secondary podcast, I talk about ska music because I because I love it. My comedy thing I make. I don't make fun of reviewers, but I like make I goof on reviewing. And like, I don't know who's listening. If it's one person, awesome. You got to do it because you like doing it. Don't worry, don't do it because you're hoping to build an audience. You want to build an audience, but don't do it because that's your goal. Do it because you like doing the thing. I would never have podcasted for over for what is 15 years maybe?

James 1:15:55
Yeah, must be fourt

Mike Bonet 1:15:57
2009, at least 2022.

James 1:16:01
Right, it's 2008. If you set the scene first kind of got started in

Mike Bonet 1:16:05
2008 to... 14 years, I would not have podcasts for 14 years if I didn't like doing it. Do things that you think are interesting. For in the beginning, I interviewed people because nobody else, there wasn't really a lot of other people interviewing people. We were like, My show is an ninjas verse pirates is relatively unique in that respect. Now, there's a lot of people interviewing people, which is why doing it because you like it helps keep you healps to keep you doing it. And the same thing about not being about being authentic as a guest, Be authentic as a host, be you that's the one nice thing about podcasts versus like the radio. Because on the radio, because on a podcast, you can just be, you don't have to perform necessarily, because a lot of it could get edited later. So you can like edit out the boring parts if you if you don't like them. But like on the radio, you have to like, because I was on the radio, in college and like, in the radio, you have to be like performing and doing something kind of interesting, because the people are gonna like they can change the dial really quickly. Right? Whereas, like, as a podcast, someone's going to kind of commit to listening perhaps.

James 1:17:19
Yeah, and well explicitly often you put a podcast on, don't you when you're doing something else? And I know I do a lot the ones I listen to

Mike Bonet 1:17:25
Yeah, I do it I do it when I drive

James 1:17:27
Right that exactly. And you're in a different kind of attention state, sort of by design when you're playing your podcast. So it's not like you're and you don't have such easy's with it switching? Because it's switching between radio stations. It's just like, it's very instant, isn't it? So that right, you just Yeah, and so it's a different, it's a different, it's a different medium in that sense.

Mike Bonet 1:17:47
So I think that's just you just gotta be like to do your thing and just be like authentic about it, like just don't. So and especially when you're reaching out to potential guests, that's I think the other big thing is when you reach out to guests, I know, Elizabeth Hargrave has posted a whole bunch about like, the ways you should not reach out to guests. Like try to give as much info upfront. Hey, do you want to come on my show, this is when I like to record. This is how I like to record. And if you do as much I do a lot of the work for the guest. So like, I don't require the guests to record on their end, I have at least two different ways of doing the recording if I need to. Hey, we can record it through Zen caster or you don't have Skype. Okay, we can use Zencast. Like for a while I was only Skype. So people would have to be like, Oh, I have to redownload Skype. I'm like, sorry. But, um, but do as much of the work upfront for the guests. So, hey, do you want to come on? You know, like, Thursday at 9pm EST is, is that a good time?

James 1:18:49
Taking the thought out of it? Isn't it for them a little bit like it makes it as much easier than not having to go and have our planners and things just like, here's how it works. Just tell them at this time. This is what you need to know. All that kind of stuff. Yeah, makes sense.

Mike Bonet 1:19:00
Exactly. Exactly. And like, you know, because it depends on the game designer too, I know like Elizabeth Hargrave is someone who like gets a lot of requests for for interviews, which I mean make sense she designed wingspan, which is a huge game, like very popular game like so somebody like her so we like you know, other people like making a lot of requests and so to sift through all the requests, do as much of the work as you can.

James 1:19:28
I mean, those are to me those are some absolutely fantastic tips because I think all of that stuff that I think some of it I do already right? And I think is useful

Mike Bonet 1:19:37
produce fun!

James 1:19:38
produce fun. Hey,

Mike Bonet 1:19:39
Produce Fun!

James 1:19:40
Hey, hey, that's the that's the name of the show.

Mike Bonet 1:19:45
Oh my god. Roll Credits. Roll Credits. We're done.

James 1:19:49

Mike Bonet 1:19:50
Are there credits. Do you have credits at the end of this?

James 1:19:52
Yeah, I've got a little bit of a little credit sequence. the Theme tune comes back. That's very much like part of how I like to do to

Mike Bonet 1:19:59
do dude doo doo we're producing fun.

James 1:20:01
Yeah, exactly

Mike Bonet 1:20:02
There's your new song? Got it.

James 1:20:04
We've got a new jingle as well to go at the end. I'm just gonna record that and then repeat that what you just did on like end at the end

Mike Bonet 1:20:11
endlessly over and over again

James 1:20:13
it just seasons three, the new new season three credit

Mike Bonet 1:20:15
seven minutes of that do doot doot producing fun

James 1:20:19
Yeah, I think it's great but I do think seven minutes might be overdoing it a little bit on loop

Mike Bonet 1:20:25
Maybe six minutes, just the six. Just have a I'll take six, six.

James 1:20:29
Okay, I'm glad we're negotiating on this now. Mike, thank you so much for talking to you today. This has been really cool. I've really enjoyed it. It's been sweet.

Mike Bonet 1:20:39
I've enjoyed this too.

James 1:20:40
so much fun. Thank you. Thank you. It's been so much fun talking and being able to just really Yeah, talk through podcasting in general. Just Oh, it's always good. It's always good conversation.

Mike Bonet 1:20:52
Nice, can I plug my three my three things before I go,

James 1:20:55
Oh, yeah. Plug away.

Mike Bonet 1:20:57
I'm going to plug a ninja verse is my website. who what? Why is my podcast? Who what Why cast is my Twitter username. If you want to find me, that's where you can find me. That is the interview portion of Mike. on ninja verse pirates, the who what was embedded in that in that in that release is also sometimes a sca podcast called Why ska, which is actually much shorter. And it's just about me and my like, history and like love of ska music. And so whatever I can remember from my past, sometimes I have my friends on. So I'm I've only put out like four episodes of that right now. But and then the last thing at guizeppole. which is actually misspelt it's guizeppole. And on YouTube, it's called meeples And meatballs. As a New Yorker, sort of italienish New Yorker doing reviews, there is a very there's there is one one rule I came up with three rules originally and I've broken two of them and one of them is the only rule that I've that I've actually kept the one rule it's all comedy. The one rule is you will learn nothing by the end of the episode. Every sure you will learn nothing about the game that is that is a rule. That is a rule in the in the meeples and meatballs that you you must learn zero about the game. But they are fun to make. They are fun.

James 1:22:41
I can imagine that tremendous fun to make I imagined there are lots of little game tropes that you can have tremendous fun with. And it's not me making fun of reviewers it's not me making fun of reviewers it's me like just having fun within the space of review. Especially because I don't review so there's a lot you can be playful with there isn't a like Oh, I think I've seen some of those those videos. They are very funny. So I recommend people very much check them out. Absolutely. And who what why check that out Yeah, absolutely. For

Mike Bonet 1:23:14
and producing fun, but you're already listening to that

James 1:23:17
the audio listeners. That one already. So that's already that's already plugged by implication, I guess. So. Mike, thank you so much. It's been absolutely brilliant.

Mike Bonet 1:23:26
Well Thank you.

James 1:23:27
Let's speak again sometime soon. I agree. Let's go

Mike Bonet 1:23:32
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo we're Producing Fun. Doo doo doo doo doo doo we're Producing Fun.

James 1:23:39
Producing Fun is produced by Naylor Games. If you enjoyed the show, follow us on Spotify, Stitcher, or other major podcasting platforms.

Mike Bonet 1:23:46
doo doo doo doo doo doo doo we're Producing Fun.

James 1:23:47
Remember producing fun is also product and it thrives on feedback. So please leave a review wherever possible. Or Send me your feedback. You can message me on Twitter at NaylorJames or write me an email James at Naylor Games. com. Until next time doo doo doo doo doo doo doo We're Producing Fun.

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