‘My Experience as a Shoutcaster’ – the winning article in the Digital Schoolhouse 2024 esports student journalism competition

Dax Khaymen - shoutcaster for the Splatoon Digital Schoolhouse tournament 2023-24
The Digital Schoolhouse Splatoon 3 finals recently concluded, with AGSB Esports taking first place. A mix of student talent also helped out with casting, producing and more.
Dax Khaymen from St John Fisher Catholic High School (photo by Joe Brady above) was not only amongst the student shoutcaster winners, but also selected by Esports News UK as the winner of the journalism award. Read Dax’s winning article on how casting can lift your confidence below.

My voice… online… being heard by so many people? I would never have even dreamt of that.

But then I took part in the Splatoon tournament.

I genuinely never believed I’d win a competition because of my ability to talk everyone’s ears off.

I’ve regularly been told in school that I could talk anyone into turning their ears off! I initially thought that this was more a nuisance than a skill. Turns out that not only is it a skill, but it’s also my amazing talent!

Splatoon is a game I always wanted to play. It captivates my attention whenever I see it getting streamed. I believe it’s a great game to get you introduced to video gaming community – one that’s simple to get your head around and easy to progress in. Splatoon helps to improve hand eye co-ordination as well as tactical analysis and team communication.

Playing it was a lot of fun. It also helped me learn to communicate effectively. Splatoon offers me a way to escape regular day-to-day life and ignore the pressing things like exams and other stressful issues.

Shoutcasting is where someone offers a voiceover explanation of what is happening in a video game esports match. This is either in real time or over the top of a previously recorded game. It allows for people to have a better perception of how the gameplay affects the players’ decisions and combat choices.

It’s a good thing to listen to when you’re a practicing player or are planning to take part in a competition or tournament.

To be a shoutcaster, you have to have good analysis skills as well as explanation skills. Communication is exponentially important – you have to be able to talk and entertain people even when you’re hiding behind a screen, especially when you are wanting to draw in and keep viewers.

It’s an experience like no other, and a career that not many people think of. Being a shoutcaster is hard work and incredibly draining. You have to learn how to talk about strategies or players that you’ve watched, or give advice to teams when there’s nothing happening, or when you know they won’t hear you.

“You have to be confident to insert your personality into the stream. Being happy and friendly even when no-one can see you is key. It’s nerve racking. You have to think up of specific combat stats and all sorts of key elements to the game on the spot – and stall when there are technology issues. But even after all that effort, it is incredibly rewarding and enjoyable.”

Dax, St  St John Fisher Catholic High School

I initially took part in the Digital Schoolhouse Splatoon tournament so I could play video games competitively with my team. I never expected that I’d commentate for the regionals. I’d been given the opportunity to during one of the matches at the regionals, and I agreed.

I enjoyed every second of it. The thrill of watching the matches and being able to state my opinion on play styles and tactics, as well as describe the way the game work, was beyond anything I’ve experienced before.

I loved being able to put across my passion for gaming in my shoutcasting and bring a whole new perspective on the game itself to those watching. After going again a second time, I felt so much more confident in myself. I was able to just be me and bring my personality to the table without being judged for my ability to word splurge. And then I got to go to the semi-finals!

On the way to Liverpool, I felt nervous as anything. The competition was tight, and the shoutcasters were the best in their group at the regionals. They were all people like me who ended up being good enough to go to the semi-finals. It was terrifying.

Albert and Dax Digital Schoolhouse caster winners
Albert (left) from Southend High School for Boys and Dax (right) from St John Fisher Catholic High School were named joint student shoutcaster winners (photo by Joe Brady)

Outwood City Academy calmed my nerves. As soon as we saw them, there was a massive cheer and they were immediately chatty and comforting. After watching them take the win at the regionals, it felt like I was back in Leeds. Nothing was different. I imagined I didn’t know about the competition again; I couldn’t let the nerves build up, or the feelings of not being good enough.

I watched the competition unfold on the screen, taking notes on consistent tactics and playstyles for each team to make sure I was fully able to describe reoccurring themes, as well as emphasise good tactics. I made sure to look at advantages and weaknesses and on how the teams played together as a whole.

I had to think and write quickly as well as analyse the players with the camera angle consistently changing from map view to player view. Any tips or thoughts from others that I didn’t have would be incredibly useful when it was my turn. I was full of lots of information and tips I’d been told by some of the teams on standby. They were all super friendly and more than willing to help me out.

Being social and making sure I took time to try and communicate with individual members of different teams, as well as the teams as a whole, was essential to helping me commentate efficiently.

I found out things from the players that I would never have been able to figure out by watching the match play out. Key facts about the game and how different matches worked got me through splat zones and tower control matches. And like I said before, the competition was tight. Outwood faced off in the final again, a match I co-shoutcasted on.

The final match was extreme. Both teams more than deserved to be there and both of us commentators were on the edges of our seats. The matches were so close. Turf War finished on a point to the other team. Outwood won Tower Control.

It was at the Splat Zone match that everyone was holding their breath. Me and the other shout caster were causing competitive uproar in the standby area as we both supported opposing teams. We had to criticise our friends on the playing teams, as well as praise the opposing team. It was more than difficult. We both wanted our friends to win but we could only have equal bias.

Being friends with the players makes the job of shoutcasting even more difficult. But casting was also beyond exciting. After returning home, incredibly tired from the competition, I felt beyond happy. I was going to London for the finals! I couldn’t wait at all!

I’d heard a lot from my teachers and friends afterwards that I’d become a lot more confident and positive, even more so than I was before. Teachers kept stopping me in the corridors to congratulate me and tell me about what they heard. I felt overjoyed. I was being recognised for something that I didn’t think any of the staff would be interested in. It was pretty life changing to say the least.

I’d started sticking up for others, being more active in my classes, and not worrying about talking too much about random topics. My skill is that I can talk loads about a small subject and I’m definitely never going to overlook it again. I started to feel a lot more confident and happier on the daily. On average, I was a lot more positive a lot more frequently. I felt like I could smile all day and not get tired of it.

“The tournament made a very drastic change for me and my mental health! I’ve felt confident enough to help others and have general everyday conversations with people I probably would never have spoken to before. I personally feel so much more like me now more than ever.”

Dax, St  St John Fisher Catholic High School

I’ve started being more productive and generally happier throughout my day-to-day life. I’ve even started becoming more invested in the world of esports than I was before. I’m looking into career paths to do with shoutcasting, even after thinking I knew exactly what I was going to do in the future.

Given the opportunity, I would do this again and again until I couldn’t do anymore. I didn’t realise how much I would change because I talked for a while online, but I really does change your perspective of yourself and on the gaming scene as a whole.

I hope that other young people get into the shoutcasting scene too, especially as it really helps improve confidence and general communication skills.

I absolutely loved my experience during the Splatoon tournament, and I hope to do more similar activities in the future. I would definitely recommend anyone taking part, given the chance. It’s more than enjoyable and you meet so many different types of people.

I never would be the person I am today without taking part, or without the support from my teachers and friends.

Related article – see the winning post from last year here: Northern Ireland’s Only All-Female Esports Team

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