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John Bain
Born (1984-07-08) 8 July 1984 (age 30)
Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Nationality British
Other names TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit, TotalHalibut
Occupation Professional eSports caster, video games commentator and video games critic
Known for eSports commentary, video game first impressions
Spouse(s) Genna Bain
Awards Trending Gamer (2014)

John Bain (born 8 July 1984), commonly known by his online alias TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit and TotalHalibut, is a British gaming commentator and critic on YouTube, who is known for being a professional caster for games such as StarCraft II and PlanetSide 2, as well as for his regular gaming commentary videos. According to Eurogamer, his video commentary on newly developed indie games and analysis of gaming news has led to him having a large following.[1] Bain is renowned for his candid, first impression critique on popular video games, where he has voiced strong approval for consumer protection in the gaming industry; frequently denouncing wrongful censorship. On 13 March 2013, he hit the milestone of one million subscribers on his YouTube channel, for which he released a half-hour-long video articulating many aspects of his life.[2]

The main source of his publicity comes from his primary YouTube channel where he posts what he describes as "variety gaming content", as part of the YouTube gaming network Polaris. Bain's most popular videos are his "WTF is...?" series.[3] He has been described by Will Porter of Eurogamer as a "champion of indie gaming" and YouTube's foremost "love him or hate him" personality. The same critic suggested Bain's online popularity is due to his voice having a "tone of authority",[1] while Bain himself believes that his candour and personality are key to his success.[3] In January 2015 Totalbiscuit was the top Steam curator with over 400,000 followers, more than the next three highest combined.[4]

He was a runner-up in the Golden Joystick 2012, in category Greatest YouTube Gamer.[5] He has been recognized on several prominent gaming sites including Technorati[6] and Eurogamer.[7] Bain won the 2012 Battle Royale organised by King of the Web and donated his $47,000 winnings to the non-profit organisation Charity: Water.[8] In 2014, he was an entrant in MCVUK's Brit List.[3] TotalBiscuit has been nominated for a Shorty Award.[9] On December 5, 2014, Bain received a Fan's Choice The Game Award in the category "Trending Gamer".[10] Apart from "WTF is...?" series, TotalBiscuit hosts programme "Content Patch" (starting from 30 Oct 2012) in which he addresses gaming news and comments. Starting from July 2013, John participates in The Co-Optional Podcast show by Polaris, where the main hosts are John himself, Jesse Cox, Dodger and other YouTube personalities where they "occasionally talk about video games", discuss gaming news, releases and how each of them spend their month or week in gaming.


Bain's broadcasting career started off when he was studying law at De Montfort University, where he hosted an extreme metal music show.[11]

From 2005 to 2010, Bain ran World of Warcraft Radio, which got enough publicity to incite a reaction from Blizzard Entertainment, the developer and publisher of World of Warcraft. He was invited to the annual BlizzCon event in 2005 to provide coverage of the event, where he met Genna Bain, his future wife and fellow YouTube personality.[12] John also has a step-son, Orion.[13] After World of Warcraft Radio ended, Bain started, where he posted more general gaming content.[3]

In 2010 during the height of the Great Recession, Bain was laid off by his employer, a financial advisory company. His unemployment coincided with the beta release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and Bain started producing and uploading videos of himself talking over gameplay on YouTube hoping to earn money through the website's ad-revenue system. In the following weeks, popularity of Bain's videos skyrocketed. A StarCraft 2 commentator by the online alias of HuskyStarcraft approached Bain and invited him to The Game Station (now Polaris), a network of gaming channels on YouTube.[3]

Bain partnered with Sony Online Entertainment for the 2012 E3 event where he broadcast a show of attendees playing PlanetSide 2 at the SOE booth.[14]

In late April 2014, Bain released a video blog announcing he had a precancerous mass in his colon; the first indications of bowel cancer, with which two of his grandparents had also been diagnosed.[15][16] A month after this VLOG, Bain revealed that he had "full blown cancer"[17] and later began chemotherapy and radiation treatment.[18] In October 2014 Bain underwent an operation, and his wife reported the doctor's assessment of it as "a success".[19] In early 2015 Bain's tests came back "clean", dramatically increasing the probability of a full recovery.[citation needed]

Consumer advocacy[edit]

In October, 2013, Wild Games Studio made a copyright claim against Bain's negative "WTF Is..." critique of their game Day One: Garry's Incident, requesting that it be removed due to being a copyright violation, despite having issued Bain with a review copy for the game, and use of copyrighted material for criticism being allowed under fair use. Bain's follow-up video reacting to the takedown attracted press attention and leveled further criticism against Wild Games Studio, which resulted in the studio retracting its request.[20][21][22]

In July 2014, an online debate about the ethics of YouTube gaming channels was sparked as a result of a survey revealing that some YouTube vloggers received monetary compensation from game developers or publishers in return for recording videos of their games.[23][24] In response to this discussion, Bain announced on Twitter that he would "be clearly disclosing promotional videos in a splash screen at the start of the video". Disclaimers had previously appeared in the description fields of his videos, but Bain felt this was no longer good enough because YouTube videos that are embedded or that are displayed with certain apps omit that information.[24]

In October 2014, whereas traditional video game review outlets were unable to obtain early access to the video game Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Bain revealed that YouTube vloggers had been offered early access to the game in exchange for agreeing to a restrictive contract which required them to be positive about it.[25][26][27][28] Federal Trade Commission rules require paid promotional deals on YouTube to be disclosed.[29][30]

Bain became involved in the Gamergate controversy after discovering that a YouTube vlogger had received a DMCA notice for a video in which Zoe Quinn was discussed,[31] warning that removing the video would cause another instance of the Streisand effect. Although neutral, he was subsequently attacked by Phil Fish and others on Twitter.[31][32] Bain has since discussed the ethical and professional concerns relevant to the video games press, and has stated that he believes that many of the ethical concerns raised during the controversy are valid or deserve to be addressed.[33][34][35][36] On a broadcast with Erik Kain of Forbes, Bain stated that he supports Gamergate as a consumer movement.[34] He has stated that the harassment associated with Gamergate was the result of lone actors who wanted to provoke conflict among the people involved in the controversy.[37] Bain interviewed Stephen Totilo of Kotaku about the Gamergate controversy in general, and specifically about Gamergate supporters' concerns with regard to Kotaku's ethics and professionalism.[35] He later appeared on The David Pakman Show to discuss the controversy and ethics in the video game industry.[36]


In February 2012, Bain announced that he would be sponsoring team-dignitas player BlinG, saying: "The StarCraft community has given a lot to me and in turn I've had the opportunity to give back with SHOUTcraft Invitational. Now it is time to take it one step further and directly support a UK talent that I believe has the potential to be one of the best foreigners in the world."[38]

In August 2012, Bain offered to sponsor CranK, formerly a member of team SlayerS, to compete in the MLG Pro Circuit 2012-Summer Championship.[39]

On 26 September 2012 Bain and Genna announced the creation of Team Axiom, with Bain and HuskyStarCraft as the teams sponsors and CranK, now AxCrank, as their first player.[40] The group joined with Team Acer to form the team Axiom-Acer to participate in the GOMTV Global StarCraft II Team League.[41] The current Axiom roster[when?] consists of AxCrank, AxAlicia, AxHeart, AxRyung, and AxImpact.[42]


  1. ^ a b Porter, Will. "The cult of TotalBiscuit". Euro Gamer. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Bain, John. "1 Million Subscribers Vlog". Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Calvin, Alex (2014-05-06). "WTF is... TotalBiscuit?". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  4. ^ "Top Steam Curators". Retrieved 2015-01-27. 
  5. ^ "Golden Joystick Award Winners 2012". Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "An Interview With John "TotalBiscuit" Bain – Technorati Gaming". 12 September 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Porter, Will (14 November 2012). "The cult of TotalBiscuit • Articles •". Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Battle Royale 2012 results page". Retrieved 7 November 2012. [dead link]
  9. ^ "TotalBiscuit". 
  10. ^ "The Game Awards Nominees 2014". Retrieved 6 December 2014. 
  11. ^ JP McDaniel (23 June 2012). "Real Talk with TotalBiscuit". Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Bain, Genna. "YouTube Playlist Depicting Genna's Adventures Living With John". YouTube. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  13. ^ Bain, Genna. "Orion Plays StarCraft 2". YouTube. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "PlanetSide 2 teams up with TotalBiscuit". 31 May 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  15. ^ Jaworski, Michelle (2014-04-30). ""I almost got myself killed"—YouTube star TotalBiscuit opens up about cancer". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  16. ^ Bain, John. "VLOG – My Little Problem". YouTube. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  17. ^ Bain, John. "Twitter / Totalbiscuit". Twitter. Retrieved 23 May 2014. 
  18. ^ Bain, John. "VLOG – How are things progressing ?". Youtube. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Genna Bain on Twitter". Twitter. 
  20. ^ Masnick, Mike (2013-10-21). "Copyright As Censorship Again: Game Developer Takes Down Scathing YouTube Review". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  21. ^ Slabaugh, Brett (2013-10-21). "Day One: Garry's Incident Devs Accused of Censoring Bad Review". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  22. ^ Usher, William (2013-10-20). "Developers Try Legally Blocking Negative Criticism Of Day One: Garry's Incident". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  23. ^ Scullion, Chris (2014-07-14). "Numerous YouTube stars admit to being paid by publishers". Retrieved 2014-12-31. 
  24. ^ a b Crossley, Rob (2014-07-16). "YouTube star TotalBiscuit pledges 'full disclosure' amid ethics debate". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  25. ^ Grayson, Nathan (2014-10-08). "The Messy Story Behind YouTubers Taking Money For Game Coverage". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  26. ^ Kain, Erik (2014-10-08). "'Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor' Paid Branding Deals Should Have #GamerGate Up In Arms". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  27. ^ Parfitt, Ben (2014-10-07). "YouTubers required to be positive in return for Shadow of Mordor review code, report claims". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  28. ^ Sterling, Jim (2014-10-06). "Shadiness of Mordor". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  29. ^ Usher, William (2014-10-13). "Shadow of Mordor Review Contract Causes Ruckus in the Gaming Industry". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  30. ^ kidsleepy (2014-10-06). "Steam and Twitch now requiring disclosure of sponsored content". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  31. ^ a b Kain, Erik (2014-09-04). "GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  32. ^ Auerbach, David (2014-08-27). "Letter to a Young Male Gamer". Retrieved 2014-10-29. 
  33. ^ Bain, John (2014-09-09). "I will now ramble about games media for just under 30 minutes". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  34. ^ a b Kain, Erik. "#GamerGate Is Not A Hate Group, It's A Consumer Movement". Retrieved 2014-10-19. 
  35. ^ a b "Ethics in Games Media: Stephen Totilo of Kotaku comes to the table to discuss". 2014-10-29. Retrieved 2014-11-03. 
  36. ^ a b "#GamerGate: TotalBiscuit on Ethics, Was Offered Free Stuff for Reviews". 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2014-11-03. 
  37. ^ Diver, Mike (2014-10-20). "GamerGate Hate Affects Both Sides, So How About We End It?". Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  38. ^ "TotalBiscuit to sponsor BlinG". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  39. ^ "Crank Offered Sponsorship from TotalBiscuit for MLG Raleigh". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  40. ^ "Definitive esports news article- Axiom esports announced". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  41. ^ "Axiom to participate in the GSTL". Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  42. ^ "Axiom Player Roster on Liquipedia". Retrieved 3 February 2014. 

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