Leaving a Legacy in the Digital Age

Leaving a Legacy in the Digital Age

On May 24th the Internet mourned the passing of John “TotalBiscuit” Bain, a prominent game critic, e-sports caster and Youtuber who spent the last four years fighting cancer. On May 28th, the pillars of his podcast gathered to memorialize him, and after listening to their heartfelt memories, I decided to write this post.

I never had the pleasure of meeting TotalBiscuit in person, but I’ve watched his content for the past eight years. Like many others, his content lifted my spirits in dark times and encouraged me to continue moving forward. Many of the Youtubers I currently watch, I found because of his collaborations with them. And many of the games I play in my spare time I found as a result of their mention on his podcast.

Who Was TotalBiscuit

For those who don’t frequent the game or youtube sphere, John Bain, more commonly known by his online tag “TotalBiscuit,” was a game critic. He produced a popular first-impressions series called WTF Is…? The best thing about the series (in my opinion) was that he frequently featured indie games. For a long time, if I wanted to buy a game but wasn’t sure, I would search TB’s WTF Is…? series to see if he had done a video (and frequently he had).

In addition, TotalBiscuit produced The Co-optional Podcast which regularly featured guests who also specialized youtube gaming content. They occasionally talked about video games. He was also well known for his involvement in e-sports; for awhile he even ran his own Starcraft II team, called Axiom.

But TotalBisucit’s most lasting legacy, aside from teaching his audience to be a little more critical of what they find on the internet, is the cadre of successful Youtubers he helped break through the gate. It’s hard to take a step in the Youtube gaming community without seeing the results of TotalBiscuit’s influence.

Why memorialize a game critic on a writing blog?

TotalBiscuit’s story hits close to home for me. On the last day of school my eighth grade year, I lost my grandmother to a protracted battle with cancer. This is not something I talk about often. It happened at a critical time in my life and many of the choices I have made since can be traced to that pivotal moment.

Doctors discovered my grandmother’s cancer during an operation to relieve severe back pain she had been experiencing for weeks. By the time they discovered her cancer, it had already spread to most of her major organs. It could neither be removed nor treated with chemotherapy.

Her doctors told her she had two months to live. She survived for six.

Cancer is a dreadful beast. But its effects aren’t always obvious. Parts of my family whispered that my grandmother could have been cured if she fought harder. But as I’ve learned more about cancer, I’ve come to understand this was an illusion. My grandmother had good days. And on those good days we wanted to believe she would survive. That everything would be fine. That it could all go back to the way it used to be.

And even after my experience, reading about TotalBiscuit’s illness made me feel the same. If ever a person could beat cancer, I believed, it would be him.

TotalBiscuit’s family, friends and fans have come together to celebrate his legacy

TB’s first, and most obvious, legacy is a legion of fans writing letters of thanks for the help he gave them in troubled times. Dig a little further and you’ll find dozens of messages from Youtubers he helped get started, or encouraged when times got tough. He was a man who forged his own path, who found a way to turn his passion for video games into a viable career, and the impression he left in people’s lives will not soon fade. It’s staggering to think what he would have accomplished had time and good health been on his side. Totalbiscuit’s success inspired others to do what they love.

And I am one of them.

I’m never going to film myself playing video games (at least, I don’t plan to). But eight years ago, while struggling to turn writing into my full-time gig, the Co-optional Podcast was a staple of my day. No matter what else was going on, I’d listen to it over lunch and let myself unwind. I got far more out of that podcast than a side-stitch from laughing and a pile of great game recommendations. I also saw a group of people forging a path through unknown territory, chasing their passions despite the challenges thrown in their way.

As a young writer struggling to break into the industry, this left a remarkable impression on me. I believed, at the time, I needed to win the approval of mysterious gatekeepers in order to share my work with the world. And my inability to do so frustrated me to no end.

Seeing a group of relatively successful people about my own age forging a path through unknown territory and enjoying every minute of it made me reevaluate my options.

I decided to self-publish my work

I’m still working on a way to make money from my passions. Every year, I inch a little closer to success, but I still have a long way to go. On the darkest days I’m still inspired by people like Totalbiscuit, Jesse Cox, Dodger and the Yogscast. It’s hard not to compare my meager success with theirs. I turned 33 the day I wrote this; the same age TB was when he died. I have a long way to go before I taste the kind of success he did. Realistically, I might never get that far.

But at the end of the day, fame and fortune aren’t what matter most. I started sharing my stories with the world because Totalbiscuit, and several of his colleagues, inspired me to do so. And as a result, I’ve met tons of like-minded authors who decided to release their stories into the world the same way. I’ve forged friendships that never would have existed if I hadn’t taken a chance and put myself out there. Friendships that I hope will last the rest of my life. And as a result of the people I’ve met, and the experiences I’ve gained, I’m going to keep putting my stories out there, producing my art in the way that suits me best.

And I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way. I wrote this post to prove that Totalbiscut’s legacy extends beyond Youtube to many other forms of media. I’m not sure how many other people have decided to pursue their passions after watching his content, but my guess is many.

Today I’m reminded that life is fragile. Whatever you want to do, whatever your passion is, do it. Don’t hesitate. Don’t worry how the world will judge you. Just forge the path that takes you to where you want to go. Because time is far, far too precious to waste. That’s what Totalbiscuit taught me, and why I’m honoring his memory today.

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