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Born John Bain
(1984-07-08) 8 July 1984 (age 32)
Spennymoor, County Durham, England, United Kingdom
Nationality British
Other names The Cynical Brit
Alma mater De Montfort University
Occupation Video game critic, video game commentator, and professional eSports caster
Known for Video game first impressions and critique, eSports commentary
Spouse(s) Genna Bain
Children 1
Awards Trending Gamer (2014)

John Bain (born 8 July 1984), commonly known by his online aliases TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit, and TotalHalibut, is a British gaming commentator and critic on YouTube, known for his role in professional casting for games such as StarCraft II and PlanetSide 2, as well as for his regular gaming commentary videos. According to Eurogamer, he has obtained a large following due to his video commentary on newly developed indie games and analysis of gaming news.[1] Bain is renowned for his candid, first impression critique of popular video games, where he has voiced strong approval for consumer protection in the gaming industry.

On 13 March 2013, Bain achieved the milestone of one million subscribers on his YouTube channel, releasing a celebratory half-hour-long video discussing many aspects of his life.[2] In October 2015, Bain announced via Twitter that he has terminal cancer, with an average life expectancy of 2–3 years.[3] However, as of January 2017, his cancer has regressed and is now considered curable.[4]


Bain studied law at De Montfort University. While there, he hosted an extreme metal music show on Demon FM.[5]

From 2005 to 2010, Bain ran World of Warcraft Radio, a popular World of Warcraft fan radio station that received special acknowledgement and recognition from Blizzard Entertainment, the developer and publisher of World of Warcraft. Bain 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.[6] After Bain's tenure at World of Warcraft Radio, Bain began, where he posted more generalized gaming content.[7]

Bain has a step-son named Orion.[8]

In 2010 during the height of the Great Recession, Bain was laid off at his job at a financial advisory company.[9] Bain's unemployment coincided with the beta release of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and he started producing 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 named HuskyStarcraft approached Bain and invited him to The Game Station (now Polaris), a network of gaming channels on YouTube.[7]

Bain partnered with Sony Online Entertainment for the 2012 E3 event where he hosted a show of attendees playing PlanetSide 2 at the SOE booth.[10]


In late April 2014, Bain released a vlog announcing he had a precancerous mass in his colon; the first indications of bowel cancer, a condition with which two of his grandparents had also been diagnosed.[11][12] A month after this vlog, Bain revealed that he had "full blown cancer"[13] and later began chemotherapy and radiation treatment.[14] In October 2014, Bain underwent an operation to remove the mass, and his wife reported the doctor's assessment of it as "a success".[15]

In early 2015 Bain's tests came back "clean", dramatically increasing the probability of a full recovery.[16] On 7 April, Bain announced via Twitter that his CT-Results showed a complete remission,[17] meaning no evidence of additional existing cancer could be found. On 12 May, he announced through a YouTube video log that he would require additional post-treatment surgeries, for the removal of his IV port and to treat a hernia resulting from one of the surgeries, among other issues.[18]

On 15 October 2015, Bain announced the cancer had metastasized to his liver and was considered incurable.[3][19] However, in January 2016, he reported that his latest scan had shown a significant reduction in tumor mass with no additional spread to other organs.[20]

On 23 September 2016, he reported that his cancer had mutated, and a targeted treatment had shrunk his liver tumor by over 50%, from 5 cm to 2 cm.[21][22] A third scan on 30 November 2016 revealed that the tumor had shrunk even more and remained in his liver, not having spread to anywhere else.[23]

In January 2017 Bain announced surgery had been scheduled to remove shrunken and dead tumors after further spread had not been discovered. Bain stated that his treatment goal was now curative rather than simply delaying a terminal prognosis. [4] On 18 February 2017 Bain announced that he would be undergoing surgery on 21 February to remove the cancerous material from his liver.[24]

On 21 February 2017, Genna Bain reported on her Twitter that surgery had been concluded, and that John was beginning recovery may even have been able to go home the day after because he did so well.[25]

On 17 April 2017, Bain elaborated on the results of the surgery, noting a disagreement between his Surgeons and his Oncologist regarding the success of the surgery and the possibility of the emergence of two small lesions within the liver. Bain stated that he intended to take another round of Chemo in order to break the deadlock.[26]

YouTube popularity[edit]

The main source of Bain's publicity is his primary YouTube channel, where he posts what he describes as "variety gaming content" as part of the YouTube gaming network Polaris. His most popular videos belong to his "WTF is...?" series, a series of first impressions on video games.[7] 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.[7] In January 2015 TotalBiscuit was the top Steam curator with over 400,000 followers, more than the next three highest combined.[27]

Apart from "WTF is...?" series, TotalBiscuit hosts programme "Content Patch" (starting from 30 October 2012) in which he addresses gaming news and comments. Bain also hosted The Game Station Podcast and is the current host of the Co-Optional Podcast, where he discusses games and gaming news with YouTube personalities Jesse Cox and Dodger along with a guest. It is live-streamed every Tuesday on his channel.

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, which resulted in the video being taken down, 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 responding to the takedown attracted press attention and leveled further criticism against Wild Games Studio, which resulted in the studio retracting its request.[28][29][30]

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.[31] 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.[32]

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.[33][34][35][36] Federal Trade Commission rules require paid promotional deals on YouTube to be disclosed.[37][38]

Bain became involved in the Gamergate controversy after discovering that a YouTube vlogger had received a DMCA notice for a video in which Zoë Quinn was discussed,[39] warning that removing the video would cause another instance of the Streisand effect. He was subsequently attacked on Twitter.[39][40] 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.[41][42][43] 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.[44] 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.[42]

On 3 April 2017, Gearbox Publishing announced a partnership with G2A for exclusive collector’s editions of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, to be created and sold by G2A.[45] Bain was critical of this move, citing G2A’s negative press coverage as well as accusations made against the company, and threatened to withhold covering Bulletstorm, or any other Gearbox game, unless Gearbox cancelled the deal.  On 6 April 2017, one day before Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition was due for release, Gearbox published a list of ultimatums made together with Bain for G2A to accept, or else it would back out of the deal. The ultimatums focused on G2A’s Shield service, an open API for game developers, and G2A’s payment system. [46] The following day, Gearbox Publishing publicly announced that it is ending its cooperation with G2A, due to a lack of response from the company concerning the ultimatums.[47] G2A responded to the assertions on 10 April 2017 stating, "All of the requests made of G2A.COM in the ultimatum have in fact long been part of our marketplace", and ascribed the problems to the unfamiliarities that Bain and Gearbox have in regards to how G2A operates its marketplace.[48]


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."[49]

Team Axiom[edit]

In August 2012, Bain offered to sponsor CranK, formerly a member of team SlayerS, to compete in the MLG Pro Circuit 2012-Summer Championship.[50]

On 26 September 2012, Bain and his wife Genna announced the creation of Team Axiom, with Bain and HuskyStarCraft as the team's sponsors and CranK, now AxCrank, as their first player.[51] The group joined with Team Acer to form the team Axiom-Acer to participate in the GOMTV Global StarCraft II Team League.[52] The Axiom roster consists of AxCrank, AxAlicia, AxHeart and AxRyung.[53]

On 15 October 2015, Bain announced the dissolution of Team Axiom because of the return of his cancer and a lack of recent success for the team.[54]


Bain was a runner-up in the Golden Joystick 2012, in category Greatest YouTube Gamer.[55] He has been recognized on several prominent gaming sites including Technorati[56] and Eurogamer.[57] Bain won the 2012 Battle Royale organised by King of the Web and donated his winnings to the non-profit organisation Charity: Water.[58] In 2014, he was an entrant in MCVUK's Brit List.[7] TotalBiscuit has been nominated for a Shorty Award.[59] On 5 December 2014, Bain received a Fan's Choice The Game Award in the category "Trending Gamer".[60]


  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 Bain, John. "Well, I don't know[…]". Twitlonger. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Bain, John [Totalbiscuit] (26 Jan 2017). "Surgery scheduled, with no organ spread and shrunk/dead tumors their goal is now curative, not merely delaying the inevitable. Let's go." (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-04-21 – via Twitter. 
  5. ^ JP McDaniel (23 June 2012). "Real Talk with TotalBiscuit". Retrieved 7 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Bain, Genna. "YouTube Playlist Depicting Genna's Adventures Living With John". YouTube. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Calvin, Alex (6 May 2014). "WTF is... TotalBiscuit?". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Bain, Genna. "Orion Plays StarCraft 2". YouTube. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Bembenek, Mike (5 March 2014). "The biggest celebrities of eSports". Red Bull eSports. Retrieved January 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ "PlanetSide 2 teams up with TotalBiscuit". 31 May 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Jaworski, Michelle (30 April 2014). ""I almost got myself killed"—YouTube star TotalBiscuit opens up about cancer". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Bain, John. "VLOG – My Little Problem". YouTube. Retrieved 30 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Bain, John [Totalbiscuit] (23 May 2014). "took too long. It's full blown cancer. Starting chemo soon, then surgery. Doctors optimistic. Don't make my mistake. Get checked." (Tweet). Retrieved 23 May 2014 – via Twitter. 
  14. ^ Bain, John. "VLOG – How are things progressing ?". Youtube. Retrieved 5 July 2014. 
  15. ^ Bain, Genna [GennaBain] (8 Oct 2014). "After 5 hours, it's over. Doc feels the operation was a success. @Totalbiscuit is being moved into recovery. He's not yet awake." (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-05-25 – via Twitter. 
  16. ^ Nathan Francis (24 January 2015). "TotalBiscuit Cancer Update: Gaming Commentator John Bain Now Cancer-Free". The Inquisitr News. Retrieved 9 February 2015. 
  17. ^ Bain, John [Totalbiscuit] (7 Apr 2015). "CT scan results: Complete remission. Cancer Status: Rekt. Confirmed button bashing scrub. Bring on the rest of life." (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-05-25 – via Twitter. 
  18. ^ VLOG - My Big Solution. YouTube. 12 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Ben Skipper (16 October 2015). "YouTuber TotalBiscuit diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, given 2-3 years to live". International Business Times UK. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  20. ^ Bain, John [Totalbiscuit] (20 Jan 2016). "CT scan results back. Significant tumor shrinkage. No spread to other organs. Chemo kicking is arse faster than its kicking my arse." (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-04-21 – via Twitter. 
  21. ^ Bain, John [Totalbiscuit] (23 Sep 2016). "My cancer had mutated. My oncologist figured out a targeted treatment for it. 2 months on, tumor size is down over 50%" (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-04-21 – via Twitter. 
  22. ^ Bain, John [Totalbiscuit] (23 Sep 2016). "To put that into context, I had a 5cm long tumor in my liver. Its now 2cm and shrinking, after 4 treatments." (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-04-21 – via Twitter. 
  23. ^ Bain, John [Totalbiscuit] (30 Nov 2016). "Scan results shows further shrinkage and no spread. Stubbornness and modern medicine go a long way." (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-05-25 – via Twitter. 
  24. ^ Upcoming surgery and moving forward, retrieved 2017-02-19 
  25. ^ Bain, Genna [gennabain] (21 Feb 2017). "Surgery is over. @totalbiscuit is now in recovery. He did so well they believe he might be able to go home tomorrow." (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-04-21 – via Twitter. 
  26. ^ Bain, John [Totalbiscuit] (17 Apr 2017). "Ok so I said I'd tell people what was going on when I was ready. I'm waiting for my PET scan in the hospital (cont)" (Tweet). Retrieved 2017-04-30 – via Twitter. 
  27. ^ "Top Steam Curators". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  28. ^ Masnick, Mike (21 October 2013). "Copyright As Censorship Again: Game Developer Takes Down Scathing YouTube Review". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  29. ^ Slabaugh, Brett (21 October 2013). "Day One: Garry's Incident Devs Accused of Censoring Bad Review". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  30. ^ Usher, William (20 October 2013). "Developers Try Legally Blocking Negative Criticism Of Day One: Garry's Incident". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  31. ^ Rose, Mike. "Pay for Play: The ethics of paying for YouTuber coverage". Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  32. ^ Wawro, Alex. "Prominent YouTuber makes paid-for video disclosure more explicit". Retrieved 2017-05-25. 
  33. ^ Grayson, Nathan (8 October 2014). "The Messy Story Behind YouTubers Taking Money For Game Coverage". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  34. ^ Kain, Erik (8 October 2014). "'Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor' Paid Branding Deals Should Have #GamerGate Up In Arms". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  35. ^ Parfitt, Ben (7 October 2014). "YouTubers required to be positive in return for Shadow of Mordor review code, report claims". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  36. ^ Sterling, Jim (6 October 2014). "Shadiness of Mordor". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  37. ^ Usher, William (13 October 2014). "Shadow of Mordor Review Contract Causes Ruckus in the Gaming Industry". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  38. ^ kidsleepy (6 October 2014). "Steam and Twitch now requiring disclosure of sponsored content". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  39. ^ a b Kain, Erik (4 September 2014). "GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  40. ^ Auerbach, David (27 August 2014). "Letter to a Young Male Gamer". Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  41. ^ Bain, John (9 September 2014). "I will now ramble about games media for just under 30 minutes". Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  42. ^ a b "Ethics in Games Media: Stephen Totilo of Kotaku comes to the table to discuss". 29 October 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  43. ^ "#GamerGate: TotalBiscuit on Ethics, Was Offered Free Stuff for Reviews". 30 October 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  44. ^ Diver, Mike (20 October 2014). "GamerGate Hate Affects Both Sides, So How About We End It?". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  45. ^ "Gearbox Publishing and G2A.COM team up on a collector’s edition of Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition" (Press release). Gamasutra. 3 April 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  46. ^ Wawro, Alex (6 April 2017). "Gearbox partners with G2A, then vows to back out unless G2A takes steps to fight fraud". Gamasutra. Retrieved 6 April 2017. 
  47. ^ Hall, Charlie (April 7, 2017). "G2A's relationship with Gearbox ends with the launch of Bulletstorm remake". Polygon. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  48. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (April 10, 2017). "G2A responds to Gearbox's withdrawal and TotalBiscuit's demands". Retrieved April 10, 2017. 
  49. ^ "TotalBiscuit to sponsor BlinG". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  50. ^ "Crank Offered Sponsorship from TotalBiscuit for MLG Raleigh". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  51. ^ "Definitive esports news article- Axiom esports announced". Retrieved 15 November 2012. 
  52. ^ "Axiom to participate in the GSTL". Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  53. ^ "Axiom Player Roster on Liquipedia". Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  54. ^ "Axiom comes to an end. on AxiomEsports". Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  55. ^ "Golden Joystick Award Winners 2012". Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  56. ^ "An Interview With John "TotalBiscuit" Bain – Technorati Gaming". 12 September 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  57. ^ Porter, Will (14 November 2012). "The cult of TotalBiscuit • Articles •". Retrieved 26 June 2013. 
  58. ^ "Battle Royale 2012 results page". Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  59. ^ "TotalBiscuit". 
  60. ^ "The Game Awards Nominees 2014". Retrieved 6 December 2014. 

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