Three guys, three mics*: outside of playing them, a gamer's second favourite past time would be talking about video games. We caught up with the guys behind Saturday Morning Arcade and asked about their passion for video game culture.
Names: Jaren, Matt, Rakush
Suitless Pursuit: Hosts of Saturday Morning Arcade (SMA)
What is Saturday Morning Arcade?
Jaren: SMA is a video game talk show/video game blog/podcast. We started in January 2010, more so as a written blog where we talked about the games we were playing. And in November 2011 we started a show on the University of the Toronto Mississauga's radio station, CFRE. We started off as a Friday afternoon hour long talk show and the podcast went up the Monday after. In the beginning it was me and Mark, and then we introduced Julian, Rakush, and Matt. After a while we realized that we wanted to take this podcasting thing further so we decided to leave CFRE. We wanted to move away from the station and do our own thing because broadcasting with CFRE meant you have to follow certain rules and restrictions like doing station plugs, PSAs, and watch your language. You have to watch what you say because you’re not just representing your product, you’re representing the station that’s housing it.
Now that you’re doing your own thing, how consistent are you now?
Matt: We’ve become more consistent about getting our episodes out. Now we’re coming out with something every week. Before when we were with CFRE, we would have days where we would be like “Well, let’s take today off” and eventually that compounded.
Typical format, aside from cracking jokes, how do you plan for each episode?
Jaren: Each episode is broken down. We have an off-topic section where we talk about whatever is going on about ourselves. Then we transition into what games we’ve been playing, what games we’ve been checking out, or whatever we’re interested in.
Rakush: We talk about what each person wants to talk about. Sometimes there are topics we have to talk about. For the most part everyone talks about what they’re comfortable with. There’s no point in doing this show if you’re not comfortable with something. There used to be moments when I used to think “man I should’ve said this and this” because when we tried to set up topics in the past we would usually have nothing to say.
Matt: Yeah we would just have a topic and we would agree on it right away like “Yeah this is bad”.
Rakush: The whole point of this right now is to shoot the shit with friends. Everyone needs to be interested. For me, there’s this realization that I just want to sit here and talk about stuff, not analyzing it anymore. At a certain point, it becomes boring to sit around and analyze things over and over. The most fun I have is talking to these people about these things.
What are your day jobs?
Matt: I'm an aspiring indie video game developer.
Rakush: I work a part-time job and I'm also trying to finish school.
Jaren: And I'm a marketing coordinator at a video game publisher.
What were some of the challenges you faced when starting SMA?
Matt: Early on, when we were figuring out where we were going, Rakush and I kept butting heads on topics on what we wanted to do.
Rakush: Yeah but the best part about that was that we were able to look past that. We’d butt heads, but we’d know that each person has different opinions. Disagreements are part of any venture. Looking back on those things we can think “that was dumb, what we were arguing about.”
I was watching a documentary on this Japanese comedian duo, Gaki no Tsukai, and they never talk to each other unless they are on air. All their material is done on camera. I started thinking “man, we should do that on SMA and not talk about games until we go on air.” That’s when our best conversations seem to happen.
What’s your vision for SMA?
Rakush: For me, it’s to have this atmosphere with every person I talk to. We take inspiration from a couple of podcasts out there like Giant Bombcast. They just sit there and they feel natural. Not everyone can say that with their podcast. If I could get something like that with even one indie developer, then I would feel my job is done. Of course, my job would feel even better if I got paid when my job was done.
How do you see SMA evolving further?
Jaren: Compared to what we were a year ago, now I like it where we are. We have a better sense of identity of who we are and what product we want to produce.
What are your inspirations?
Jaren: Our biggest one has been the Giant Bombcast. We would have discussions about how “we need to step back a bit” because we essentially kept trying to be Giant Bombcast Lite. There’s no point in trying to chase someone else’s success because we can only be who are.
Rakush: We are nothing like those guys. We are our own dudes trying to do what those guys do.
Jaren: That’s what happened with the Season 2 segments. It was me trying to be someone else.
Matt: You literally took something out from other podcasts.
Jaren: Yeah, but then you realize that this isn’t "us”.
Rakush: That’s the key thing nowadays. We’re just trying to be ourselves.
Jaren: Being ourselves is Rakush talking about sports and us making fun of him.
E-sports. Great or greatest?
Matt: I like the term e-sports. I feel like it rolls really well.
Rakush: I think it’s a marketing thing really. I’m sure they are self-aware of this as well – they aren’t athletes – but the term e-athletes is more marketable than pro-gamer because pro-gamer still has a stigma.
Jaren: I like the parody that the gaming culture has, taking e-sports and mocking it every chance it gets. I’ve been playing Divekick a bit and there’s this one character - whenever he dies he always yells “Divekick is e-sports!” That cracks me up.
Any advice to someone who wants to start a podcast?
Jaren: Just do it. We did it. This has produced some of the best times I’ve ever had. I’m having a lot of fun. If you are passionate about something, just go for it. What’s the worst that could happen? I guess you could explode…
Rakush: Have your priorities and focus at all times because the moment you forget why you are doing it in the first place is the moment you’re going to start disliking what you are doing.
Matt: Make friends with people who know what they are doing or at least appear to know what they are doing and follow them in. That’s why I’ve been doing this whole time.
Rakush: Are you taking a jab at us? We make you do all the technical stuff and put our legs up.
Matt: I was like hey Jaren is doing a podcast? How am I getting in on this?
Rakush: Yeah and I was like “We need someone to do the editing”. It all works out…hey what’s my role on all this?
You can listen to Saturday Morning Arcade on http://www.saturdaymorningarcade.com/.
*Not to be confused with Two Girls One Cup.