When you mention pursuing careers in gaming, most people visualise the luxurious life of a pro-gamer or streamer. However, not everyone is cut out to make it into the upper echelons, competing with the best in the world and making sufficient money out of it. There are other ways to break into the gaming arena with options to broaden your horizon in order to make a living off esports – this includes becoming a professional esports caster.
With the esports community growing and the gaming industry steadily on the rise, shoutcasting now pays pretty decently and there is enough work to be had so as to earn substantially. If you’re open to being a professional esports caster, we’ve accumulated some tips from studying professional casters already in the scene for you to follow:
Master at least one game
Can you imagine watching a Wimbledon match or a Premiere League match and the commentators have no clue of the sport they’re covering? The same applies for esports games and while it may not be necessary for a shoutcaster to master a game, it does have its merits. Knowing your game well and having some passion for it gives you confidence to be in flow when commentating. Else, you’re going to very look reactive and obviously out of place. Also, esports games are usually fast-paced and keeping up with it definitely requires some passion for fuel.
Having said that, don’t limit yourself to just one game, always be willing to expand your knowledge and learn more. The self-inflicted desire to improve is one of the primary things that distinguishes one caster from the other.
Carry your personality
Game knowledge is obviously fundamental, however, personality fuelling your enthusiasm helps push a long way forward. It’s hard to explain what an ‘x-factor’ really is but each of us has his or her own which helps in establishing your own brand.
Most of the skills expected of you to become a professional esports caster can be learned but not personality. An x-factor is not something that can be taught, it is who you are so you do need to be yourself. Being technically sound is good but not if it comes at the expense of being a bore to the audience – you have to remember to make it seem like fun.
Play by Play vs Colour casters
Players and the competition itself may be what draws crowds but shoutcasters are the pulse of esport tournaments. They are the bridge between the action on-ground and the audiences watching it. Of the casters that are called upon to commentate, there are, broadly speaking, two kinds – play by play casters and colour casters.
Play by play casters give running commentary on the action going on and is expected to bring hype and energy while narrating the story as it happens. Colour casters analyses why and how a team wins or loses or why they are playing out a certain strategy and how it faired. Game knowledge is vital for this role with the ability to tie it into the larger picture adding your own opinion.
There is a demand for both styles of casting so you could consider which of the two better suit your personality and level of knowledge to start with. As time passes you could practice and interchange if you feel the need. Eventually, you could even be a hybrid of the two when you’ve reached the level of expertise and comfort required.
Blow your own trumpet
There are several intricacies that go into the making of a top-notch professional esports caster but nothing is more important than practice. Your ability to commentate depends solely on how much talent and practice you have under your belt. As a beginner, you could ask other good players to get a replay folder and cast over it. If you’re part of any competitive scene, even at a grass roots level, you could approach them offering to broadcast.
Watch other professional esports casters to learn, pay attention to the vocabulary and terminology being used. Review your own work, share it for feedback and be honest when asking for help. You may not get everything right when starting out but improvement and the desire to get better is what counts.
You could stream games with with your commentary on Twitch and/or upload to Youtube. Do what you can for more opportunities to get yourself known, network as much as possible and blow your own trumpet.
Generally, a shoutcaster’s voice and speech dictates their chances of success. You may have all the game knowledge, style and networking required but if your speaking isn’t clear enough, your chances of becoming a professional esports caster are slim to none.
A good caster needs to control his or her voice over the progression of 30 to 40 minutes at a time, which may not be that easy given the intensity of these matches. You must be able to speak clearly and enunciate well enough for viewers. Your pitch, speed, etc. controls the viewers perception of what’s happening on-screen.
Esports pro caster Harvey “Skriv” Rodgers says, “A person’s voice is an incredibly potent tool. In gaming, it finds prominence in the various areas of streaming and is most readily applied to the world of esports shoutcasting.” Skriv has developed an expert’s guide to esports casting covering the fundamentals to improving ones vocal aptitude as a professional shoutcaster. He advocates the importance of building clarity, confidence and content or the “Three C’s” every caster should live by.
Keep producing content
Keep producing content and sharing it – the benefits are many. Each cast you produce is practice for you and your goal should be to improve on each one. Regular cast practicing will make you comfortable with the process, language, energy required, etc., it will also increase your confidence and quality.
Ideally, try creating content everyday if you can. If not, create a content production schedule and stick to it diligently.
This also helps develop a good profile to use when approaching organisers to broadcast for them. One of the greatest benefits of producing and sharing content is organic audience growth. You will develop a follower and fan-base as the weeks and months go by. Think of it this way, each video/stream is one more opportunity for you be discovered. It is also a plus point when you can bring your own set of followers to a tournament – it makes for better bargaining power.
Know the tools and technology
Two of the most common platforms to kickstart your career as an esports caster are Twitch and Youtube. You could live stream on the former and/or do after-the-fact commentaries on the latter. The third option is to do audio-only casting – similar to podcasts. In addition to the platform you choose, you also have to select the technology for the hardware and software you’re going to use. OBS studio is a good choice for live streaming and recording gameplay videos. It is comparatively less resource-intensive and is an open-source software. Audacity, also a free software, is a good choice for audio-only commentating.
Streaming videos require significant CPU and GPU strength. You could use the Auto-Configuration wizard in OBS to check out how well you can stream. You will also require internet speeds of at least 1.5 mbps upload or more. Lastly you will need a good microphone to capture audio that is crisp, clear and static-free.
You will most-likely be a one-person team until you can find someone to handle the technical side of things. Till such time, the audio-work, camera-work etc. is all in your hands and it is no cake walk. Nevertheless, if you have the passion and drive, you will do it. Take comfort in knowing that there are other successful casters who started out the same way.
Lastly, perfecting your on-screen persona, mastering the right way to speak, accumulating knowledge, learning the vocabulary and everything else can only be gained by actually doing. It’s okay to be scared, it helps in making sure you perform well. The most important thing you need is the right mentality and, as mentioned before, the willingness to always learn and constantly improve. So don’t hold back, just start.