Hey, Lesson! is a show about science, history, language, and other fascinating topics explored through the lens of popular videogames. Every episode features two experts: a guru of games, and an expert from reality. Let's see what we can learn.
Is artificial intelligence going to murder you? (Portal)
Is artificial intelligence going to murder you? (Portal)
Is AI a threat to mankind? We ask Mike Cook, AI researcher, if they are actually a danger, and talk to voice actor Sarah Elmaleh to find out what makes a good robot voice.
How does a real Sifu teach Kung Fu? (Sifu)
Is Sifu the game realistic? We talk to martial arts instructor Carrie Ogawa Wong about what it's really like to teach Kung Fu to students.
What is worldbuilding? (Elden Ring)
Elden Ring is set in world "built" partly by George R R Martin. But what is worldbuilding? We talk to games writer Jon Ingold of Inkle Studios to find out.
Would you quit the city to work on a farm? (Stardew Valley)
The printer is broken, your manager wants those reports by 5pm, and the guy in the cubicle next to you is humming Baby Shark again. It’s enough to make you want to walk out of this office, take a long bus ride out of the city, and go live on a farm. Well, damn, maybe you can. Stardew Valley is a farming simulator beloved by many precisely because it lets you live out this fantasy. But we know somebody who’s done it in real life. We brought farm worker and lapsed city boy Nader Kaddour on to Hey Lesson to ask: is farm work as calming and rejuvenating as it is in Pelican Town? The answer, as always, is not straightforward. Also joining us for this episode is writer Paul Dean, who has his own opinions about the residents of such a seemingly idyllic village. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for links and notes. Links: Paul is on Twitter Paul writes about Stardew Valley and life All music tracks are from the Stardew Valley OST: Stardew Valley Main Menu Theme Spring (It’s a Big World Outside) Spring (The Valley Comes Alive) Spring (Wild Horseradish Jam) Fall (The Smell of Mushroom) Winter (Nocturne of Ice)
How does gravity work on a ring world? (Halo Infinite)
Hope you’re not prone to dizziness. Halo Infinite is set on a giant ring in space and we wanted to know: how does gravity work on something like that? So we spoke to Scott Manley, astronomer and celebrated YouTube rocket man, about how the centrifugal force of spinning would keep Master Chief’s boots planted on the ground, and how the human body can adapt to such weirdness. Also joining us is Natalie Clayton of PC Gamer, who has been gung-ho-ing through the shooter’s campaign as well as its multiplayer. Is Halo good again? Well, she says, it’s complicated. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links. (more…)
What's your zombie apocalypse plan? (Back 4 Blood)
We’ve all got one. Mine is to loot a pharmacy for pills, the delicious currency of our future. But there are better people than I in the upcoming zombie apocalypse. Dr Emily Zarka is a professor and expert on monsters and the undead. You might have seen her show, Monstrum. Well, she’s here to tell us all about the zombie’s origins in Haiti, how it has mutated over time, and her own zombie preparedness kit. Also joining us is returning bullet-mate Matt Cox! Matt has been playing Back 4 Blood with me, and you can really tell because his zombie plan is a bit, well, shooty. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links. (more…)
Is time an illusion? (Deathloop)
Physics says no, time is real. But that doesn’t mean strange things can’t happen to the human brain when it tries to understand the passage of time. We speak to philosopher of time Professor Craig Callender about the nature of the universe’s big ticking clock, why physicists disagree about it, and how you can categorise time travel stories as “consistent” or “inconsistent”. Deathloop is… well, it’s surprisingly simple next to Einstein’s theories. We’ve got games journalist Nic Reuben to talk about the game and what makes its Groundhog Day styled time loop (not to mention its shooting) so compelling. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links. (more…)
How did people become a medieval knight? (Chivalry II)
The pen is mightier than the sword. But what about this giant mace? What about this halberd? In this episode of Hey Lesson, we speak to medieval history buff Jason Kingsley about what it took to become a knight of medieval Europe. It helps that he is a modern day knight, but mostly his expertise comes from swinging actual swords. Yikes. Also joining us to talk about multiplayer sword-fighting game Chivalry II – it’s the ever-stabby Matt Cox! He’s very good with a longsword, but also quite good at describing the joy of the make-believe battlefield. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
What would alien life look like? (Mass Effect)
Look outside at earth’s life. Trees, birds, flowers, buses. Truly, it is a bounty of the universe. But could other planets host life? And if so, what would it look like? I don’t know, I’m just a podcast man. But one person who might know is Laura Rodriguez, astrobiologist at NASA. This episode we talk to her about the possibility of organic matter on other worlds, and how far it’ll probably be from the alien spacefriends of the Mass Effect trilogy. Also joining us to talk about said spacefriends is Imogen Beckhelling, noted Krogan liker and lore knower of the Mass Effect galaxy. So much knowledge this month! Come on in. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
What is zookeeping really like? (Planet Zoo)
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… Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
Why do we love vampires? (Resident Evil Village)
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. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
How did sailors become pirates? (Sea of Thieves)
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. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
Why do people like to fight? (Guilty Gear)
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. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
How do you survive in the arctic? (Subnautica: Below Zero)
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. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Or put a one-off tip in our tip jar Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
How do you design a dream home? (The Sims 4)
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. With guest co-host Grimsevers! Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
Who invented Chess?
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. With guest co-host Matt Cox! Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
How do mediums speak to the dead? (The Medium)
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. With guest co-host Edwin Evans-Thirlwell. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
Are Japan's Yakuza disappearing? (Yakuza: Like A Dragon)
With guest co-host Kazuma Hashimoto! 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… Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
The Trial of the Tomb Raider
Featuring guest co-hosts Alex Fitzpatrick, Imogen Mellor and Florence Smith Nicholls! Her reign of archaeological terror ends here. Lara Croft, known to some as the “Tomb Raider”, has been stealing ancient artefacts and impatiently kicking skulls out of her way for too long. Today, in a special holiday episode of Hey Lesson, we are putting the infamous plunderer on trial for her crimes. Those crimes are mainly being a poor archaeologist and a questionable archer to boot. She will be judged by a (very small) jury of her peers. Two archaeologists, one archer, and a mostly clueless host who is mainly there to ask leading questions. Lara will be tried in absentia, because she is a fictional character and cannot take the stand in her own defence. Yes, this is a show trial. We follow our own customs of law and order here on Hey Lesson. Happy holidays. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)
Can you escape from Hades?
With guest co-host Chris Bratt! Crawl out of that blood pool, you’re in Hades. Don’t worry, not real Hades, only the much-lauded action game interpretation of said underworld by Supergiant Games. It’s a roguelike full of notoriously beautiful Gods and super hot heroes. But were Greek deities really considered so sexy by the ancient Athenians? Who even was Zagreus, son of Hades and lead character of this game? And if we found ourselves trapped in this realm of ghosts, could we ever truly escape? We put all these questions (and more) to archeologist Gunnel Ekroth, a specialist in ancient Greek religious practices who has legitimately burned goat bones to better understand these distant people. That’s dedication. Support Hey Lesson on Patreon! Click “read more” for a full list of links and transcription. (more…)