Noted YouTube gaming critic dies at 33
By Duncan Fingarson, Senior Columnist
On May 24, John “TotalBiscuit” Bain died of cancer, surrounded by his loved ones. He was 33.
Four years ago, Bain was diagnosed with colon cancer. Despite treatment, the cancer metastasized to his liver a year later. The average life expectancy for inoperable liver cancer is two to three years. Sadly, Bain never made it past that average.
I never met TotalBiscuit, though I wanted to one day. In the spirit of full journalistic disclosure, something he fought for in his career as a games critic, I fully admit that I was a fan of his for years. Right now, I am as old as he was when he was diagnosed, and that’s a scary thought. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t have cancer, and I hope I never do. However, this article is not about me. This is about John Bain; his work, his principles, and what he meant to at least one of his fans.
Bain’s work in games media started in 2005, running the World of Warcraft fan radio station WoW Radio. The show lasted until 2010, after which he started his own website, CynicalBrit.com, and branched into other gaming content. Throughout his career Bain was first and foremost a PC gaming critic, his popular “WTF Is…?” series spanning 334 YouTube videos and covering everything from “Triple A” releases (releases made by a major video game studio or publisher, usually with a high budget and expected to generate a high revenue) to small indie games (independently made games, usually created by an individual or a small studio with a lower budget). To date, the series has received over nine million collective views. John was also the host of the GameStation Podcast, which later became the Co-Optional Podcast when it was acquired by Polaris, and eventually moved to Bain’s own channel.
Quite often, Bain would make a discussion vlog concerning a topic which he felt deserved attention, and a video would get devoted to talking about it with gameplay in the background. Usually these topics were linked to consumer advocacy and condemning shady business practices by game companies, game journalists, and third-party retail sites such as G2A. Bain was an outspoken man, harshly criticizing anti-consumer practices wherever he saw them. He often spoke about how hard he tried to be honest and ethical in all of his own business dealings, and how he felt he had earned the trust of his audience and would never risk it by taking an undisclosed sponsorship.
TotalBiscuit had critics of his own. He wasn’t perfect. He could be abrasive on Twitter and earned himself enemies all across the political spectrum. Bain owned his mistakes, apologizing for things he had done in the past and stated that he was trying hard not to do them again.
Ultimately, though, he was a supporter of human rights and equal treatment. Once, after having atransgender guest on his podcast provoked a negative response from part of the audience, Bain released a half hour audio log in defence of his guest, condemning hatred, bigotry, and outright stating that he did not want those people as his fans. That’s the sort of man he was.
I enjoyed his content. I didn’t always agree with him—we had vastly different taste in puzzle games—but I respected him. I want to express my support for those who knew him personally in their time of loss. Rest in peace, John Bain. You will be missed.