Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco writes some honest and open thoughts following the passing of well-known British video game critic, YouTuber and caster TotalBiscuit, aka John Bain.
For the past two days I have been completely consumed by TotalBiscuit’s life, achievements and his sad passing at the age of just 33.
I read the news as I was doing my usual sweep of Reddit before bed during the early hours of Friday morning, and it hit me pretty damn hard.
Since then I’ve been viewing old videos, reading up on him and just thinking about life.
I confess, I didn’t know TotalBiscuit personally, I never met him. And yet, as I’m sure many of his viewers and fans of his content will probably understand, I felt like I had.
I’ve watched many of his videos over the years as a subscriber of his on YouTube, and always appreciated his honest, meticulous style, combined with a dash of wit and a penchant for highlighting the important and interesting.
He had an amazing voice that could probably narrate paint drying and still make it sound interesting. Most of all, to me he was a trusted critic and felt more like a friend than a content creator, kind of like a weird mix between Jim Sterling and Brian Blessed.
I first got into games like Hearthstone and Smite and War for the Overworld because of TotalBiscuit, and gained some quality insight into industry developments that weren’t really being reported on elsewhere. I particularly liked his ‘I will now talk about [insert topic here] for 40 minutes’, ‘top 10 games of the year’ and ‘lets NOT play’ video series. The guy was also just brilliant at tearing apart crappy indie/early access/Steam Greenlight games like this and this.
“As part of the original League of Legends referral program, John was granted the chance to design a new champion with Riot Games. He ended up donating this prize to the Make A Wish Foundation and a teenager with cystic fibrosis”
I began looking at his content and following him in a different way when he announced he had cancer. I can remember feeling relieved when he announced it went into remission, only to worry again when it returned. But the guy was stubborn, a fighter, and I always believed he’d beat it.
That’s why I just couldn’t believe it when I read that Reddit post on Friday morning. I didn’t want to believe it.
To go from contracting cancer to passing away in a small handful of years… I can’t imagine what he and his family went through.
The fact he died at 33 has made me do a lot of thinking these past few days, and look at life in a different perspective. I’m pretty much that same age, and John’s passing has made me wonder what would happen if I was in the same boat as him. It’s made me appreciate what I have more.
I was supposed to be on a family break the past few days, but I couldn’t stop thinking about John and reading comments and watching videos about him. One video in particular was eye-opening and harrowing: TotalBiscuit talking on the H3 podcast about living with cancer, and having less time to live, and (in his words) ‘making sure that time counts for something’.
There have been countless posts on social media about the many positive things he’s done and the impact he’s had throughout his life, and so he certainly has made his time count.
I initially didn’t want to write a news post on John’s passing, despite his relevancy to UK esports and gaming, I just didn’t feel it was right.
The amount of negative crap that’s also littered the internet about John’s passing has been despicable and upsetting. I don’t want to name them here and give them exposure, but there’s been a few disgusting people seemingly celebrating his death, and a horrible mainstream publication getting information wrong and just writing generally horrid and insensitive headlines.
But after some soul searching and researching after the past few days, I felt compelled to write something. To do something more thoughtful than a soulless news post. And to show that even for someone like me who didn’t know him personally, he had a positive impact on my life. I had to thank him publicly, and get the thoughts off my chest. I hope this piece, written from the heart, is more suitable.
Total Biscuit of Everlasting Will
League of Legends fans will of course know the Total Biscuit of Rejuvenation consumable item that acted as an upgraded health potion, but they might not know the story behind it.
Back in late 2010, John published the video, ‘WTF is… League of Legends?’, which ran through what the game is and how it works. It eventually racked up more than 3m views and became TotalBiscuit’s third most popular video of all time.
It’s a fascinating video, probably even more so now as it highlights just how much League of Legends has changed since 2010.
The video did so well, it achieved a high number of referrals to the game, and as such Riot added the Total Biscuit of Rejuvenation item into League, as a thank you to John.
This item was later renamed to Total Biscuit of Everlasting Will last year, as John continued his fight against cancer.
As part of the original referral program, John was also granted the chance to design a new champion with Riot Games. He ended up donating this prize to the Make A Wish Foundation and a teenager with cystic fibrosis, who travelled to Riot to co-design the ADC champion Kadarin, which wasn’t used in the game but had a prototype made.
Upon John’s passing, the League of Legends Twitter account changed its picture to the Total Biscuit of Rejuvenation icon:
As one commenter – Rengo Kitty EUW – said on the Total Biscuit League Wikia: “Rest in peace TotalBiscuit. Your memories will forever live on in League through this item <3”
Esports & perseverance
There are many other things TotalBiscuit did aside from his YouTube and game critic work, of course. He was a StarCraft II caster, did a WoW Radio and Azeroth Daily series, and even had a pro esports team known as Axiom. He did his own Shoutcast Invitational tournaments.
He’s done StarCraft II announcer packs for Blizzard, and loads of other stuff in the industry. He regularly done important reporting, and donated money to important causes, like this video outlining YouTube copyright abuse around game content, and how he donated all the proceeds from it to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He’s the face of the LUL emote on Twitch for heaven’s sake. The man has left a huge mark on the games industry.
“Thank you for your enormous contribution to gaming, thank you for having a positive impact with your content and thank you for leaving a mark on an industry that needs people like you”
I’ve read a lot of tweets about John and articles in the past few days. I had no idea he was a regular at Multiplay/Insomnia events back in the day, or the sheer amount of work he put in beyond his own channels, or that time he found out a co-caster of his wasn’t being paid, so opted to give half of his earnings from the show to him. John was passionate about esports and really understood it, as outlined in this video by him.
This article by Richard Lewis goes into greater detail around what John was like as a person and what he did behind the scenes.
Like I say, I didn’t know him personally, but John sounded like a strong and remarkable person.
Even in his last few weeks, him and his wife had the strength to make light of the situation by posting this on social media:
it’s not all bad pic.twitter.com/z8Jw2dXCFM
— TotalBiscuit. (@Totalbiscuit) April 23, 2018
That image got me in particular. To say it’s not all bad even in those circumstances… I admire their courage and will.
I don’t know what else to say, but, thank you TotalBiscuit. Thank you for your enormous contribution to gaming, thank you for having a positive impact with your content and thank you for leaving a mark on an industry that needs people like you.
You certainly left a mark on me, you have inspired me and I will not forget you.
You can contribute to Total Biscuit’s memorial fund on Go Fund Me here
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League of Legends and World of Warcraft player, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association and runs ENUK in his spare time.