Image from GamesNosh
Jon “Total Biscuit/ The Cynical Brit” Bain has passed away from a fight with bowel cancer at the too-early age of 33. Honestly, any age is too early to die from cancer. It’s not how I would want to go out in my twilight years. I was an on and off follower of Bain’s YouTube channel for about as long, I think, as Bain was available on YT. He mostly, perhaps entirely focused his efforts on covering games both AAA and indie on the PC platform. Aside from videos detailing rants and critiques of the games industry and their often questionable practices towards the consumer, he was best known for his “WTF is..” series of videos. The videos in question were either a before or after release “first thoughts” video in which Bain would give his honest opinion on a new title.
Occasionally, he would make videos discussing in detail games he loved, such as the original Deus Ex from 2000. Sometimes it would be videos discussing other Youtubers, whether it was in defense or against them. No matter what he did, I never felt he was dishonest in his perspective, even if I disagreed with him. His thoughts on the gameplay of Bioshock Infinite (2013) stick out in my mind for how unfavorable they were against mine just as much as he shared my glee for the awesomeness of 2016’s Doom reboot.
He was not without scandal, though I use the term loosely in his case. His habit of being unapologetic in his stances, unsurprisingly created many detractors. After his passing, David Crooks, an ex-Bioware employee who worked on the beloved Mass Effect series, particularly its not so beloved most recent entry, Mass Effect Andromeda (2017), had some hateful words for the late journalist. He tweeted “that the world felt a little bit better” when he learned of his death. His main set of arguments against Bain were for critique that Total Biscuit made towards games he worked such as the Mass Effect series. Bioware’s General Manager and director of the Mass Effect series, Casey Hudson, had to apologize for Crooks’ comments, after the latter took down the tweets and made his Twitter account private.
He also gained notoriety back in 2014 over his stance surrounding “Gamergate” in that he took a “pro” position. Bain, a long standing advocate for ethical game journalism and practices in the gaming industry believed in the message the movement was apparently about. The “anti” movement believed it was a shield to protect a toxic, anti-female agenda in the industry, and that Bain’s support by extension made him sexist. The volume of Bain’s work as “the Cynical Brit” would suggest otherwise, not least of all being the support of his wife and fellow gamer, Genna Bain.
It does not matter what was in Total Biscuit’s heart because we really don’t know. What his words, his activity online tells us is what we know and what we should remember him for. His stance on clean practices for journalism and treatment of games and the gamers should be honored even if there were times when you thought he couldn’t be more wrong on some pertinent topic. What he stood for is still alive and hopefully it will never die. Rest in peace, TB. If you can somehow still play on the other side, I hope you have GGs forevermore.