This week will see the 200th episode of the Game on Australia podcast air nationwide on all podcast apps as well as streamed on Twitch. This momentous occasion is well worth celebrating, and being known as The Historian, it would be remiss of me not to look back at the Game on Australia journey. In this multi-part series, I will take a look at some of Pete and Dan’s most memorable moments, and perhaps some they’d prefer weren’t saved all over the internet. In Part 1, I look back at their humble beginnings, amazing sponsors and special guests, and their march to 500 Facebook likes.
Recapping an epic double tonne journey across the lands of Hyrule, Azeroth, Tamriel and beyond is not an easy task, as so much gaming goodness, friendship, community, and growth has occurred. It all started with two Aussie blokes who just bloody love gaming, coming together with a ragtag pilot episode of a gaming podcast. Testing the waters way back in September 2016, Pete Curulli and Dan van der Meer set off on the road less travelled, in a time where there were very few gaming podcasts on the market. Certainly, there were none hailing out of Perth, Western Australia.
What began as a weekly catch up with two blokes, banging on about gaming for an hour, quickly turned into a medium many of us could connect with. With top 3 things gamers needed to hear, retro pick of the week, a whole lot of Overwatch talk and check-ins with what games each of them was playing. Well, we knew Pete was always playing Overwatch, so it was more about what Dan was playing. There was also this bloke called Malcolm who would cop a spray each week, mainly from Dan, forming one of my favourite segments of the show, “I’ve got you in my sights”. Pete’s still banging on about Overwatch today in 2021, but only because Overwatch 2 has been announced.
Whilst scrolling through Facebook, I saw that a friend of mine liked this new Facebook page called Game on Australia. The logo was questionable, but I love gaming and one of the hosts is related to this friend of mine, so I followed the page. Up went posts regularly with gaming memes, Pete being first in line to buy the NES Classic Mini, the boys picking up some game bargains, and notifications of when they were recording the next podcast episode.
Pete got super ambitious straight out of the gate and put the NES Mini up as their first prize giveaway. The hook – when the page reaches 10,000 likes. It is 2021, and we are still chasing that 10,000! Is the prize still up for grabs? I had better check.
Pete and Dan just wanted the podcast to be big enough to get free games. Poor Dan took a while to get his first one, but it was not long before they started getting hardware to review too. Next came special guests and sponsorships signed. Dan recalls the time when PLE came on board as their first sponsor, who are still principal sponsors today over four years later.
“We just went in [to PLE] and talked passionately about gaming and they were right into it. Legends!”
After their first 10 episodes, the Game on Australia podcast had reached 500 downloads and was in the top 10 Games & Hobbies podcasts on iTunes. Pete gave us an impromptu celebratory message – yes, he has a dirty mo as it was November, and no, he has no shirt on. But being the epic gamer Dad that he is, it was for a good reason. You can view the video here. By the end of November, after coming home late from a gig, Pete recorded a video in whisper because his family were asleep in the room next to him. He was losing his shit on the inside as the Game on Australia podcast had hit #1 on iTunes for Games and Hobbies.
With Dan’s music history and talented ability on a guitar, their joint love of gaming, and the fact they both work at a radio station, naturally gaming songs were the next big thing from the lads. Their first is an absolute ripper. I remember driving to work very early on a Sunday morning, dreading the long day ahead when I put on the Game on Australia podcast’s latest episode. Episode 14 came out swinging with the song, I’m a Gamer, to the tune of a famous Dennis Leary track. It sure got me pumped and brightened my day and is still a bloody good listen today. The lads had fired up their YouTube channel at this point too.
This was followed at the end of 2016 with a song titled, “All I Want For Christmas Is Games”, sticking it to Mariah Carey. There is a whole range of gaming songs from the lads over the years, 14 in total so far, enough to make a bloody good Christmas present! Better than socks, but probably not as good as vouchers for video game shops! Dan recalls recording that first track.
“Our first gaming song, I’m a Gamer, happened so easily and came together really well.”
Fresh into the new year and at the end of January 2017, news broke that they had secured a 12-month partnership with Qantas and Jetstar Australia! From April of that year “Flight Mode” presented by Game On Australia was up in the air, bringing gaming content to you while you fly domestically! This was amazing and the GOA brand was spread well and truly nationwide. Dan recalls when family members noticed their faces on the plane seat screens in front of them.
“My Dad and Uncle Jim’s faces when we got on a Qantas plane and they saw me and Pete on the Q Entertainment home screen, plastered all over the plane. Hilarious!”
Special guests started appearing on the podcast. First was Frank Macri from Respawn / EB Games. Then I reckon Pete’s face was like Dan’s Dad when he found out he would be shaking hands with the legendary Charles Martinet, the voice of Super Mario, which you can watch here. Whilst chatting to Charles, he tells the story behind Link from Legend of Zelda almost having a voice in Ocarina of Time. It is a great listen on episode 27 of the podcast, which is why Charles became the first inductee in the Game on Australia Hall of Game!
From here, momentum built, and their contact list grew. Pete was invited onto the Lamestorming podcast, while Dan jetted off to Vegas where he found the largest Pacman in the world, apparently.
The Adelaide Crows announced they had purchased Legacy eSports and Pete was invited onto an eastern states radio station to explain what that meant. This was followed up an interview with Peter Stefanovic whose mind was blown with the sudden interest in eSports. Daniel Visser of Wicked Witch Software gave us an insight into the development processes and team behind sports game AFL Evolution. Later, the boys chatter to Bill Farmer, the voice of a heap of Disney characters from the Kingdom Hearts series, as well as giving away tickets to Oz Comic Con.
By now, follower numbers were slowly increasing on the Facebook page, and a community was starting to build. Facebook though was not easy for those of us on the outside to connect and share content with Pete and Dan or even amongst ourselves. My first post to them was back in August 2017 where I put up a photo of my old copy of Commander Keen on a 3.5” floppy disk. There were a few of us in the community that were consistently posting gaming content, we just could not see it unless Pete or Dan linked it on the main page.
To counter this, Pete and Dan started to incorporate community shoutouts into podcast content which we all got a kick out of if our names were read out. It was around September 2017, with just shy of 50 episodes under their belt, the boys realised they had been doing this amazing thing for more than a year now. They were not stopping there though, and it was soon announced the podcast would feature on heavy metal music station, Andrew Haug Radio. Metal music goes well with many game genres, and this worked to further widen the audience for Game on Australia.
The legends also started to post questions to gamers on the Facebook page, asking for input into what our favourite game music was. And with all the talk of mini consoles, we all got to vote on our dream game list for a theoretical Nintendo 64 Mini, which ended up with some pretty epic game selections!
The first 12-months of the Game on Australia podcast was incredible for us listeners, but when you sit back and see all that Pete and Dan achieved in that time, plus their own busy lives with work and families, it is a true testament to their vision and work behind the scenes to deliver this weekly podcast and building a community from the ground up. If you are new to the podcast, or joined part way through the journey, do yourself a favour and go back to the beginning. We also had members of the community writing gaming articles and reviews, particularly Nic Holland and Adam Lamotte, who later inspired me to get into games writing and ultimately joining the team.
Many laughs were had over the development of the podcast up to this point, all while the lads were shuffling their work and gaming dad lives around to fit the podcast in. One thing to bare in mind is that Pete and Dan achieved all of this on their own. The team that is there today hadn’t been thought of yet. There were times when Pete and Dan almost got taken out by man flu, and work trips interrupted the flow, though to their credit, they did actually record episode 47 of the podcast whilst driving back from a work trip to the Coral coast of WA – now that’s dedication to the cause. The gaming must go on and many followers were now heavily invested in the show and the community. Some of us even got to play games like PUBG and Destiny 2 live with Pete while he streamed to Twitch, but more on this in the next article.
In my next part of this series celebrating Game on Australia’s 200th podcast episode, I talk more about the GOA community, the formation of the closed God Mode group, gaming online with Pete, community meet ups, milestone and Christmas giveaways, and more!
Written by: @ChrisJInglis