Starting from the bottom? Good you’re here (Part One)
What to do with ambition and little else
How do I get into casting?
The idea of casting is something that I imagine pops into many a head of the esport viewer or enthusiast. You see a big play, the casters are hyped, you’re hyped. The synergy between what’s happening in the game and yourself is at its peak. You can feel the investment, the highs and the lows, and when you feel that manner of emotion or excitement, it’s natural to want to communicate it with others. You wish to do as the casters from that game do.
But, as one person, what are you to do? You don’t have a tournament, you don’t have two teams, or two players who at your behest will battle it out in a scene for your commentary. So as the lone aspirant with few resources, what can you do?
What kind of caster do I want to be?
Perhaps a daunting question with which to grapple first, though it will help focus the rest of your efforts, is what kind of caster do you want to be? If you’re incredibly knowledgeable about the game you wish to cast, do you want to be an informative caster, always looking to deepen the understanding of the audience and bridge the gap between game and viewer with deeper analytical thoughts and explanations? Alternatively, are you more of an entertainer, someone who wishes to convey the game to your audience through an emotional journey, the highs and lows, the hype and the despair? These two archetypes are not the only manners of casting, of course, though if you can imagine the spectrum of balanced approaches in between you may be able to visualize where you and your set of skills moving into casting will best lie.
Your approach to casting can always change, as you find yourself a niche or deepen your understanding of the game or how to convey such to an audience, though choosing which starting position you believe best suits your initial skillset will help you in your first few casts. Though, now that you have some idea of where you want to be, we’re just missing a tournament to cast, right?
The VOD approach:
Luckily, the only tools you need to get started casting are the devices you’re using to read this article and your voice. The easiest way to start casting is to ‘just do it,’ according to many professionals, and the easiest way to do it, is do what’s been done before. Videos on Demand (VODs herein) are the recordings of previously broadcast games, and you can find them from various sources. The most useful sources of VODs are Twitch, where many tournaments are broadcast originally and YouTube, where many VODs are conveniently deposited after the fact. Find a tournament of the game you wish to cast, ideally a game which you have some knowledge of, and load up the VOD of one of the matches. Odds are, there will already be casting over the game, so you’ll likely have to mute the VOD and practice in relative silence. It might feel awkward, but it will at least give you an environment without linguistic distractions to hone your own craft.
Being new to casting, it’s at your discretion for how long you cast before taking a break or stopping and to some degree it will vary based on your game. It’s likely taking this approach that you will be casting by yourself, so don’t be afraid to take breaks and pauses in your commentary, almost all professional casts work with two people so if you feel what you said could be the end of a casting portion, feel free to pause for a moment and think about what a co-caster might say. These points are usually called ‘hand-offs,’ but casting techniques will be covered in other material here on BroadcastGG.
One of the great things about the VOD approach is that with no audience, you can dictate the flow and timing of your casting and practice. For example, if you’re looking to cast Overwatch, you might wish to cast one half of a map; that being one team’s attack. After your cast of half the map, you can pause, think about what you’ve been saying and in what ways you’ve communicated what’s going on in the match without reading the killfeed, identify weaknesses or areas for improvement and then go again on the second half.
The first time you try casting over a VOD, it will be difficult, especially with game sounds muted for many games, as you will miss a lot of auditory cues. Hopefully casting your first game will leave you feeling pretty good, finding it fun is a must in casting because you will have to invest a huge amount of time and practice into the act to get skilled enough to make this a career if such is your aim. The great upside of VOD casting however is that no one will hear you, you can make all the mistakes you want to, all the awkward ‘um’s and ‘ur’s will go noticed only by you, the one with the power to address them through more practice. Hours invested with VODs will let you explore not only how to react to the game before you and how you wish to convey that to a potential audience, but show you what weaknesses you might have as a caster and let you address them or eventually find a partner who can cover holes in your skillset with their own.
It’s worth noting that using VODs for practice is never an ‘outdated’ method for a caster of any skill level, you can always use this method to warm up, practice and refine your skillset or try out new things that may not work in a broadcast if you tried them for the first time. Best of all, for the aspiring caster it only requires two things, an Internet connection and your voice. The best way to become a caster according to many is to ‘just do it,’ there’s no excuse not to, if you have the drive and the will to succeed, the tools are at your fingertips.
As a further note, if casting a VOD without game sound is harder for you and you require VODs with game sound but without casting, you can consult the BroadcastGG VOD library available from our Discord. Furthermore if you’re able to it is always worth recording your casts and playing them back to critique yourself more finely and potentially ask for the critique of others, a fresh pair of ears will tell you a lot about your style and strengths, as well as weaknesses. Remember that every person you share your VODs with is a potential audience member for every game you cast, so value constructive criticism!
In our next getting started post, we’ll look at how you can find a community within which to develop yourself as a professional and hone your craft, as well as find opportunities.