Who are shoutcasters and what are they?
By Anushia Kandasivam July 7, 2017
- Research and in-depth knowledge is required for good shoutcasting
- There is a lot of space in the ecosystem for more shoutcasters
THE first live voice broadcast of a sporting event took place in 1921 in Pittsburgh, US, when a local radio station announced a baseball game. Previously, the most technologically advanced sports broadcasting had got was an announcer at the radio station receiving telegrams from somebody at the match and reading them out as if he was witnessing the game live.
Sportscasting has come a long way since then; now you can watch games being played live on television or online with the benefit of professional sportscasters telling viewers exactly what they are seeing and why the game is being played that way.
It should come as no surprise then that an essential component of watching e-games is the live commentary that goes with it. The live commentators – called shoutcasters, supposedly because there is a lot of shouting involved – are people who, just like any other sportscaster, have in-depth knowledge of the game, strategies and players.
Shoutcasters know the game so well because they are gamers themselves. Shoutcasters can specialise in one game and have intimate knowledge of everything about it or have a few games in their portfolio.
Malaysian shoutcaster Emmikka Rose (pic, right), known as Emmie when she shoutcasts, is a DOTA 2 shoutcaster and says that she focuses on one game because a lot of time and effort is required to analyse and understand everything that goes on in this particular game.
“Even the slightest modifications to the game can impact the play, so it’s important for shoutcasters to keep abreast of changes and understand how they will change the way the game is played,” she explains.
Azrul Anwar, known as Jandahunter (pic, above), however, shoutcasts a number of games, mainly Street Fighter, Tekken 7, DOTA and Mission Against Terror. He also occasionally shoutcasts for CS:GO, League of Legends and FIFA, among others.
“I cover a lot of games because of the lack of talent. Not many people diversify because they have knowledge in only one game. I myself play a few titles. I usually give a more casual commentary and focus more on the play-by-play,” he explains.
So you want to be a shoutcaster
So what does it take to be a shoutcaster? Certainly, deep knowledge of the game is essential, but is that all?
A new shoutcaster has many decisions to make, not least what medium he or she wants to use (stream live on Twitch or commentate after the fact on YouTube, for example), and what style of casting they will use (play-by-play or more analytical casting, known as colour casting). These choices will inform decisions on equipment and software, which the shoutcaster must master to use to highest efficiency and best advantage.
A large percentage of shoutcasting happens remotely, and as with any online industry, shoutcasters must produce new content regularly to build a network of viewers and fans. Not only does this aid in career progression – the more well-known the shoutcaster is, the more jobs they will get – doing it means getting in more practice. Shoutcasting is like public speaking; more practice means enhanced skill and less fear of performing in front of an audience.
Emmikka says that one of the most important things a shoutcaster should have is an open mind, meaning they must be ready to learn, and must embrace their fears. “People aren’t always going to agree with your casting style or how you relay information so being open to criticism is always important. You need a thick skin if you want to improve because some people can be nasty.”
Emmikka herself did not have a great first shoutcast – she jumped into it more or less blind when she was 15-years-old and it went horribly, she says. But that first glimpse into the shoutcasting world got her hooked and after diligently honing her skills, she started getting offers to shoutcast for big events and realised she could really make something of it.
“Now when people tell me about how much I’ve improved in a span of a few years, be it playing the game or shoutcasting the game, it gives me a sense of pride,” she says.
Azrul details three more essentials for a good shoutcaster: discipline, patience and sacrifice. “You can’t see games as just games anymore; it’s work. You must be prepared to work harder than others. You might not be as handsome, popular or rich as other people in your field, but you can always be the hardest working person in the room. Full-time gaming requires a lot of sacrifice, especially time doing other things you like or spending time with your family and friends.”
Despite appearances, shoutcasting is hard work. A good shoutcaster conducts hours of research into the game, the players, strategies, styles of playing and much more. “A shoutcaster must possess the ability to tell a story and assess a situation. A good story will engage an audience even if they do not know much about the game,” says Azrul.
“A sense of humour is a bonus,” adds Emmikka.
Of course, having a job you love is always fun, something that Azrul and Emmikka can attest to. “Shoutcasting has opened many doors for me and I’ve met many amazing people in the e-sports industry. I think the thing I love best is going into a tournament area and seeing all these people who have the same passion as I do. It’s always exhilarating to me and I never get tired of it.”
For Azrul (pic, right), the best thing about shoutcasting is getting to decide the storyline of the games he is calling.
Both Azrul and Emmika agree that there is still a lot of space for shoutcasters in the e-games ecosystem. The shoutcasting industry is far from being saturated in Southeast Asia, let alone Malaysia. In fact, Azrul got into shoutcasting after realising that there was not enough serious shoutcasting talent in the e-games space. He now covers e-sports full time.
“I wanted gaming to be a viable career for Malaysians and not only as a player. Not many are willing to embark down this path so I set myself on it to be an example,” he says.
Emmikka says that most shoutcasters in Malaysia cast in English, so there is a lot of room for Bahasa Malaysia casting, which she opines has the potential to draw a big audience.
With the steady growth of the e-games ecosystem in Southeast Asia and certainly in Malaysia, shoutcasting is fast becoming a viable full time career. According to Azrul, aspiring shoutcasters must put in hard work to make themselves known but once this is achieved they can they reap the benefits of their labour. “The top talents can live comfortably with the current growing scene,” he says.
It comes down to the cyclical nature of the e-games ecosystem - if a player in the ecosystem, whether a shoutcaster, gamer or something else, can prove that what they are doing is popular enough to get thousands of viewers, participants or visitors, sponsors will come flocking and e-games will reach a wider audience, eventually becoming completely mainstream.
Positioned as Malaysia’s leading eGames Festival, HotShotz has six components to it:
Strictly for amateurs, with a total of seven games, both PC and console players who fancy themselves to be the next Malaysian world champion, should pencil in HotShotz as their breakout debut on to the main stage. The main event will see over 250 finalists competing to be winners in the following games:
- Counter Strike (on the PC)
- Street Fighter V (PlayStation 4)
- Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (PlayStation 4)
- Overwatch (PC)
- PES 2017 (Winning Eleven 2017) (PlayStation 4)
- Dota2 (PC)
- Tekken 7 – (PlayStation 4)
Game Publishers Showcase
Various game titles will be available for visitors to enjoy in the free to play area with Sony Interactive Entertainment Hong Kong Limited Singapore Branch (SIES) and Codemasters will also be having a booth presence.
Indie Games Showcase
All the big games started out small and here, through the showcase presenter, MDEC, 10 independent game developers will be showing their games for all to play. Could one of them become the next big thing in the gaming industry?
Seen as very much at the periphery of the gaming ecosystem, nonetheless it was Cosplay players, many of them gamers themselves, who helped take the fantasy characters of the gaming world into the real and, indirectly, helped create a sense of excitement and reality around the games. Watch out for the cosplay workshop as well where you will get tips on how to portray your fave gaming world character.
You’ve heard of how some people love to modify their cars, well, meet the geek equivalents and be blown away by how far some will go to turbo charge their machines. There will also be a hands on area where visitors can assemble their own dream gaming machine.
VR news has been making headlines with a Malaysian games developer turned VR player raising some funding from 500 Startups last week. Yet another key player in the Malaysian VR scene is VR Lab Sdn Bhd and as our VR Partner with the largest booth space, they will be ensuring that HotShotz visitors get to experience what the world of VR is actually like.
With some much going on at HotShotz over the two-day festival, get your tickets here.
Those who purchase the two-day ticket will also be eligible for the lucky draw with a PS4 Pro console, three units of Predator gaming mouse, a gaming chair and some VR for mobile headsets as the prizes!
HotShotz is supported by Main Sponsor Predator, which is Acer’s gaming brand, co-sponsors Digi, Malaysia’s leading telco, Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Sony Interactive Entertainment Hong Kong Limited Singapore Branch (SIES). KDU University College is the Venue Host, VR Lab is the VR Partner and Lazada Malaysia is the e-Commerce Partner. The media partner is Astro’s eGames channel, EGG and Indonesian media site, vivo.co.id. Watch out for more partner announcements!