The Online Community Behind FromSoftware's Hardcore RPGs

USGamer has published an article on the Dark/Demon's Souls community, with interviews with youtuber Dave "DaveControlLive" Klein, streamer Mike "LobosJr" Villalobos, and Bonefireside Chat podcast hosts, founders and writers Kole Ross and Gary Butterfield. Here's a snippet on the Bonfireside Chat podcast, which doesn't quite enjoy the same popularity as Klein or Villalobos' video content, though I'd very definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the series:

Kole Ross and Gary Butterfield, founders of the podcast network, had no choice but to make a show entirely devoted to the Souls series. The network's flagship production, Watch Out for Fireballs-a podcast dedicated to classic gaming-found itself constantly thrown off track with tangents about FromSoftware's RPG series, so Butterfield and Ross did the obvious thing and made a show about that subject specifically. The podcast, Bonfireside Chat, has been going strong since early 2013, and acts as a field guide of sorts to Dark Souls, with each episode focusing on a specific area (or areas) of the game. In the nearly two years since the show's inception, the two have covered Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, nearly all of Dark Souls 2, as well as inspirations like the Berserk manga and previous FromSoftware creations, such as King's Field: The Ancient City.

Even though Butterfield and Ross' podcasting style feels like listening in to a conversation between two good friends, the sheer affability and inclusiveness of the two makes listeners feel like they're part of the discussion, rather than on the outside of an inside joke. In the spirit of full disclosure, Bonfireside Chat brought me into the community by introducing me to its most notable members, and I've even had the honor of guesting on a few episodes, despite my lack of Souls-related achievements.

"We just really wanted to talk about [Souls]," says Butterfield, "But also, if you look at the iTunes charts, podcasts about one game do really well. That [approach] actually ends up being pretty successful. There are people who just play [Dark Souls]. The game's been out for a long time, but there are not general gamers who kind of like Dark Souls. They just keep playing it, over and over and over. There are Souls players the same way people are not video game players, but... are Bejeweled players. They're not game players, they have a game that they play."

"Talking about Dark Souls is an inherently fun thing to do," adds Ross, "because of the amount of shared vocabulary that comes up around it. When you talk about things with really narrow appeal, you attract people who are engaged with that. What that has done is given us a really high-quality kind of listener-people who are going to stick around and talk about us."

Though Bonfireside Chat is intended for people who are already on board with the particulars of Souls, both Butterfield and Ross have witnessed fans of the podcast using the show to bring newcomers into the series. And, with the structure of the podcast, it's not hard to see why. When Bonfireside Chat begins discussing a new Souls game, the first episode always goes over the basics, and how that particular installment may differ from others-think of it as a tutorial of sorts, but one that exists outside of the game itself. And, for some players, that's exactly what they need to avoid being overwhelmed by the rude awakening a new Souls experience can bring.