TotalBiscuit

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TotalBiscuit
Photograph of Bain in 2012
Bain in 2012
Born John Peter Bain
(1984-07-08)8 July 1984
Spennymoor, County Durham, UK
Died 24 May 2018(2018-05-24) (aged 33)
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
Cause of death Hepatic encephalopathy coma, brought on by metastasized colorectal cancer
Other names
  • The Cynical Brit
  • TotalHalibut
Alma mater De Montfort University
Occupation
  • Video game critic
  • video game commentator
  • professional eSports caster
Years active 2005–2018
Known for
  • Video game first impressions and critique
  • eSports commentary
Spouse(s) Genna Bain
Children One (stepson)
Awards Trending Gamer (2014)

John Peter Bain (8 July 1984 – 24 May 2018; colloquial online aliases: TotalBiscuit, The Cynical Brit, and TotalHalibut), was a British video gaming commentator and game critic on YouTube. He was known for his role in professional shoutcasting for games such as StarCraft II and PlanetSide 2, as well as for his regular gaming commentary videos. According to Eurogamer, he obtained a large following due to his video commentary on newly developed indie games and analysis of gaming news. Bain voiced strong support for consumer protection in the video gaming industry.

Bain announced that he had terminal cancer in October 2015, and while he continued to critique games through the next few years, he formally retired from the job in April 2018 due to his failing health as his cancer had become untreatable. He died on 24 May 2018.

Biography[edit]

Bain studied law at De Montfort University. While there, he hosted an extreme metal music show on Demon FM.[1]

From 2005 to 2010, Bain ran World of Warcraft Radio, a popular World of Warcraft fan radio station that received special acknowledgment 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.[2] After Bain's tenure at World of Warcraft Radio, Bain began Cynicalbrit.com, where he posted more generalized gaming content.[3]

In 2010 during the height of the Great Recession, Bain was laid off at his job at a financial advisory company.[4] 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, the 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.[3]

Bain partnered with Sony Online Entertainment for the 2012 E3 event where he hosted a show of attendees playing PlanetSide 2 at Sony Online Entertainment's booth.[5]

Cancer diagnosis and death[edit]

In late April 2014, Bain announced 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.[6] Within the month, Bain revealed that he had "full blown cancer" and was beginning chemotherapy treatments.[7]

Bain reported in April 2015 that a CT scan showed a complete remission of the cancer. However, by October 2015, a newer CT scan showed that while the bowel cancer had been eliminated, the cancer had metastasized to his liver and was determined inoperable, with his doctors giving him a two to three year life expectancy. Bain announced the disbanding of his eSports team Axiom on this news.[8] By January 2016, Bain had also decided to distance himself from social media, while still focusing on making his game critique videos.[9]

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 (2.0 in) to 2 cm (0.79 in).[10][11]

In October 2017, Bain appeared on the H3 Podcast, during which he discussed at length the current state of his cancer. He described his condition as "stable" (meaning the cancer was still present, but not spreading), and that it was stage IV cancer.[12] On 22 November, Bain tweeted that his chemotherapy had stopped working, but that there were other types he could try. He also noted that the cancer hadn't spread, but that its growth had started again.[13]

In mid-April 2018, Bain was hospitalized for extreme back pain, from which the doctors discovered that the cancer was growing, applying pressure on his spine. While he underwent a clinical trial to combat the spread, the doctors found that the cancer had become too resistant to medication and conventional chemotherapy would be ineffective; he was also informed that his liver was failing. The doctors transferred him to palliative care with the option to resume clinical treatment if a trial compatible with his failing liver became available. Because of this, knowing he did not have long left to live, Bain announced he was fully retiring from game criticism, believing he was no longer capable of performing his work at a level that would satisfy himself and his fans. He planned to continue his Co-Optional podcast with his wife Genna, with plans for her to take over the podcast should he die.[14][15][16]

On 24 May 2018, Bain's wife Genna announced through both her own and her husband's Twitter accounts that Bain had fallen into a "hepatic coma" (a coma induced by large amounts of toxin buildup in the liver) and died.[17][18][19] On September 9, 2018, Blizzard Entertainment created a commemorative bundle in honor of Bain; all profits received from the sale goes directly to Genna and their son, Orion.[20]

YouTube popularity[edit]

The main source of Bain's publicity was his primary YouTube channel, where he posted what he described as "variety gaming content" as part of the YouTube gaming network Polaris. His most popular videos belonged to his "WTF is...?" series, a series of first impressions on video games.[3] He was described by Will Porter of Eurogamer as a "champion of indie gaming" and YouTube's foremost "love him or hate him" personality.[21] The same critic suggested Bain's online popularity was due to his voice having a "tone of authority",[21] while Bain himself believed that his candour and personality were key to his success.[3] Prior to his death in May 2018, Bain had over 2.2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel.[16]

TotalBiscuit was the top Steam curator for several years, with over 800,000 followers at the time of his death.[22][23] Because of his popularity, Valve Corporation, which manages Steam, invited Bain and another gaming critic, Jim Sterling, to their headquarters to help discuss how to improve the Steam's storefront and discovery tools in 2017.[24]

Apart from his "WTF is...?" series, Bain hosted the "Content Patch" programme (started from 30 October 2012, ended 15 July 2016) in which he addressed gaming news and comments.[25] Bain also hosted The Game Station Podcast and was a host of the Co-Optional Podcast, where he discussed games and gaming news with YouTube personalities Jesse Cox and Brooke "Dodger" Thorne along with a guest. It was live-streamed every Tuesday on his Twitch.tv channel.[26]

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.[27][28][29]

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.[30] 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.[31]

Alongside his own Steam Curators channel, Bain founded the "Framerate Police" Curator group, intended to review games which reportedly had been locked to a 30 frames-per-second frame rate and determine if a higher frame rate was possible, as higher frame rate games typically look better and may be more responsive to player input. Bain said of the group's purpose "One of the biggest frustrations for people like that is when a game prevents them from getting the performance their hardware is capable of due to arbitrary limitations within the software itself and one of the most obvious and jarring that has such a big impact on how a game plays, is a 30 frames per second (or lower) lock."[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] arguing that removing the video would cause another instance of the Streisand effect. He was subsequently criticized on Twitter.[39][40] Bain subsequently discussed the ethical and professional concerns relevant to the video games press, and stated that he believed that many of the ethical concerns raised during the controversy were valid or deserved to be addressed.[41][42][43] He 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 regard to how G2A operates its marketplace.[48]

Sponsorships[edit]

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]

Awards[edit]

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.[3] 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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ JP McDaniel (23 June 2012). "Real Talk with TotalBiscuit". Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  2. ^ Bain, Genna. "YouTube Playlist Depicting Genna's Adventures Living With John". YouTube. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Calvin, Alex (6 May 2014). "WTF is... TotalBiscuit?". Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  4. ^ Bembenek, Mike (5 March 2014). "The biggest celebrities of eSports". Red Bull eSports. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  5. ^ "PlanetSide 2 teams up with TotalBiscuit". 31 May 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  6. ^ Jaworski, Michelle (30 April 2014). ""I almost got myself killed"—YouTube star TotalBiscuit opens up about cancer". Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  7. ^ Tach, Dave (23 May 2014). "Web broadcaster John 'TotalBiscuit' Bain diagnosed with cancer". Polygon. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  8. ^ Votta, Rae (17 October 2015). "YouTube gamer TotalBiscuit reveals inoperable cancer, disbands esports team". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  9. ^ Klepek, Patrick (25 January 2016). "TotalBiscuit Quits Social Media With Emotional Goodbye". Kotaku. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  10. ^ Bain, John [@Totalbiscuit] (23 September 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 21 April 2017 – via Twitter.
  11. ^ Bain, John [@Totalbiscuit] (23 September 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 21 April 2017 – via Twitter.
  12. ^ H3 Podcast #35 - TotalBiscuit. H3 Podcast. 21 October 2017 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ Bain, John [@Totalbiscuit] (22 November 2017). "Yeah, this chemo has stopped working. Was gonna happen eventually. Thankfully there are more types, switching to another type. Not great. Not in another organ but, growth started again" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ Bain, John (1 May 2018). "[Official] - TotalBiscuits future". Reddit. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  15. ^ Schreier, Jason (1 May 2018). "Game Critic Totalbiscuit Says He's Retiring: 'I Don't Have Long Left'". Kotaku. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  16. ^ a b Murdock, Jason (1 May 2015). "Totalbiscuit Cancer Update: Youtuber John Bain Liver Failing, Warns Fans 'I Don't Have Long Left'". Newsweek. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  17. ^ Grayson, Nathan (24 May 2018). "Game Critic Totalbiscuit Has Died". Kotaku. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  18. ^ "YouTube star TotalBiscuit dies aged 33". BBC. 25 May 2018. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  19. ^ Video Game Critic John ‘Total Biscuit’ Bain Passes Away – Game Rant. Gamerant.com (1984-07-08). Retrieved on 2018-05-27.
  20. ^ https://starcraft2.com/en-us/news/22481041
  21. ^ a b Porter, Will (14 November 2012). "The cult of TotalBiscuit". Eurogamer. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  22. ^ McWhertor, Michael (24 May 2018). "Game critic John 'TotalBiscuit' Bain dies at 33". Polygon. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  23. ^ "Top Steam Curators". Retrieved 27 January 2015.
  24. ^ Chalk, Andy (3 April 2017). "Valve is revamping the way Steam recommends games". PC Gamer. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  25. ^ Skipper, Ben (16 October 2015). "YouTuber TotalBiscuit diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer, given 2-3 years to live". International Business Times. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  26. ^ Dale, Laura Kate (16 August 2017). "TotalBiscuit on Dealing with the Hate". Kotaku. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  27. ^ Masnick, Mike (21 October 2013). "Copyright As Censorship Again: Game Developer Takes Down Scathing YouTube Review". Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  28. ^ Slabaugh, Brett (21 October 2013). "Day One: Garry's Incident Devs Accused of Censoring Bad Review". Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  29. ^ Usher, William (20 October 2013). "Developers Try Legally Blocking Negative Criticism Of Day One: Garry's Incident". Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  30. ^ Rose, Mike. "Pay for Play: The ethics of paying for YouTuber coverage". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  31. ^ Wawro, Alex. "Prominent YouTuber makes paid-for video disclosure more explicit". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  32. ^ Grayson, Nathan (23 September 2015). "The Story Behind Steam's 'Framerate Police'". Kotaku. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  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 (7 April 2017). "G2A's relationship with Gearbox ends with the launch of Bulletstorm remake". Polygon. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  48. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (10 April 2017). "G2A responds to Gearbox's withdrawal and TotalBiscuit's demands". Retrieved 10 April 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". Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  55. ^ "Golden Joystick Award Winners 2012". Retrieved 13 November 2012.
  56. ^ "An Interview With John "TotalBiscuit" Bain – Technorati Gaming". Technorati.com. 12 September 2011. Archived from the original on 1 June 2013. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  57. ^ Porter, Will (14 November 2012). "The cult of TotalBiscuit • Articles •". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  58. ^ "Battle Royale 2012 results page". Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  59. ^ "TotalBiscuit". shortyawards.com.
  60. ^ "The Game Awards Nominees 2014". Archived from the original on 14 November 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2014.

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