Get the shovel, the elephants have left us some work to do. This episode is all about zoos and the animals housed within. Is running a zoo anything like management sim Planet Zoo? Well, a bit. We talk to long-time zookeeper Matt Price about his experiences as a carer for animals in various zoos in the US, and he tells us about picky polar bears, high-strung cheetahs, escaping monkeys and more. Also joining us is writer and animal appreciator Nate Crowley, who has played a ton of Planet Zoo, and fills us in on the Great Warthog Crisis of 2019…
Come into the dark pod castle, dear listener. There’s nothing unsettling in here except some VAMPIRES. That’s right. To celebrate the new Resident Evil and the series’ always-changing formula, we have spoken to horror expert and follower of gothic trends Tanya Krzywinska. She tells us about the origin of the vampire tale, its various mutations, and why it’s so enduring. Alongside that, we are joined by narrative designer and writer Cara Ellison, who has penned a few disturbing biters in her time. I’ve already invited you across the threshold, so start up the show. And as always, fangs for lessoning.
Load the cannon! Did I say “cannon”? I meant load the new episode of Hey Lesson. It’s all about the pirates in Sea of Thieves. We’ve spoken to author and historian Dr Jamie Goodall about the history of these cut-throat sea-scoundrels, and ask her: how did ordinary sailors of the 1600s go about embracing the life of high seas shenanigans? As ever, there’s no simple answer (turns out there’s no pirate exam) but there are interesting ones! We also welcome back Pip Warr to tell us about her own oceanic misadventures in Sea of Thieves. She is a devious sea dog, we’ve discovered.
How would you like to get hit in the head? No? Well, for some that’s part of the thrill of a fight. And it’s about more than that. For this episode, we’re talking about fighting games with Guilty Gear player and martial artist Patrick Miller. On top of that, we ask psychologist Dr David Matsumoto (who also happens to be a judo coach) why some people enjoy the risk of the ring, and what judo players or boxers do to prepare themselves mentally for a big fight.
Come in from the cold, make a cup of tea, and listen to a piping hot episode of Hey Lesson. This time, we’re exploring the icy world of survival game Subnautica: Below Zero. And we’re doing so with one of its developers! David Kalina is project lead on the game and has dropped in to chat about Subnautica’s alien planet and the process of designing its world. As if that’s not enough, we also talk to polar expedition leader and wildlife photographer Françoise Gervais, who tells us what it is really like to trudge through the snowy landscape of the frozen north (and south) in search of the perfect shot.
What’s a nicer shade of pink: “sad piglet” or “burnt tongue”? No, I don’t know either. Luckily at Hey Lesson we make it our mission to speak to people who can tell us the answer to such questions. This week we’ve been building an expensive manor house in The Sims 4 and wondering, how should you really design your perfect home? So we spoke to Linda Merrill, a professional interior designer to find out what’s best practice when it comes to painting walls, choosing furniture and tricking visitors into thinking our tiny corridors are bigger than they really are. We also showed her some photos of our wonderful Sims house to see what she thought. Her response was polite.
It was not Dr Albert Chess, we regret to inform you. We’ll probably never know the precise origin of this ancient game of strategy and funny horses. But we can try to find out! And that starts with asking a board game historian for some background on the noble game. Where did it come from? Was it always so stuffy? Did chess ever face competition from other ancient board games? We ask Ulrich Schädler of the Swiss Museum of Games to bring us up to speed on a multiplayer battle arena that hasn’t been patched since the 15th century.
Spoiler: they don’t. Unless they are the tortured protagonist of The Medium, a new horror game from the makers of Layers of Fear. She talks to the dead all the time, shifting between our world and a decaying spirit realm as she is pursued by a malevolent presence with a gurgling voice. Do “real” mediums have such problems with spirits? And how do television mediums and psychic performers correctly intuit so much about their audience members? We spoke to expert fact-checker Susan Gerbic to discover the psychological tricks mediums use to fool their audience, and how she goes about performing a “sting” on a phony psychic.
Get your best suit on. We’re off to the classiest, seediest, and most fictional entertainment districts of Japan. Yakuza: Like A Dragon is the latest criminal RPG in the much-beloved Yakuza series. Yet what truth lies behind the flashy jackets and shocked expressions of its characters? Yes, Yakuza games are all melodrama and action, but can we learn anything about the real Yakuza of Japan through these lovable rogues? In this episode we speak to investigative journalist David Kaplan, who spent time in Japan investigating the criminal underworld. He fills us in on the history and current-day reality of these entrepreneurial crime lords, and blesses us with an anecdote involving some unfortunate little fingers…
“Never look back,” my mother always said. “Unless you are compiling your Games Of The Year list.” So here you go: a short video naming the 5 games I most enjoyed in 2020 (and some runners-up too). It’s a real pick ‘n’ mix of a shortlist, with some big blockbusters alongside games made by small teams. There’s no particular order to it. I liked them all, despite what flaws they have (ahem, looking at a certain bizarro walking simulator here).
This is a small bonus video to round out the year. Podcast-wise, I have some good episodes lined up for 2021, and I hope I have as many video games to praise at the end of it. Thank you to all the lessoners and Patrons who have stuck with me so far! Please feel free to shout out your favourite games from this year in the video’s comments. GOTY lists are pretty silly. But they are fun to make. Make one!