The Emperor has died. Long Live the Emperor!
May 24, 2018 6:11 PM   Subscribe

Genna Bain tweeted: Rest in Peace my Dearest Love John @Totalbiscuit Bain July 8, 1984 - May 24, 2018

John "Total Biscuit" Bain had been battling with cancer since 2014 and had recently announced his retirement from games criticism.

He was known, among many other things, for: - WTF is... Totalbiscuit?
- John Bain at IMDB
- Fanart that inspired the post's title

Rest in peace.
posted by andycyca (43 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I found value in his videos. I either played against him (or someone posing as him) in Hearthstone a few years ago; it was one of the most challenging and absurd matches I'd played in that game. I stopped sharing or watching his videos after people said he'd argued in support of the GamerGate controversy, but whatever personal disagreements I had with him do not change the fact that cancer is an awful collection of diseases and he should not have died when he did.
posted by jsnlxndrlv at 6:34 PM on May 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

May he find as much peace as he granted his targets. For someone who loved "Get cancer" as a thing to throw at his targets, there's some bitter cosmic irony that it would catch up with him.

(Which is to say, when someone's spent years directing death threats against others, doxxing people, & driving people to suicide, he doesn't get to have all that forgotten)
posted by CrystalDave at 6:38 PM on May 24, 2018 [54 favorites]

charming fellow
posted by juv3nal at 6:44 PM on May 24, 2018 [5 favorites]

May his entire culture follow him.
posted by Artw at 6:54 PM on May 24, 2018 [17 favorites]

Dying of cancer is something I wish on nobody.

But I refused to praise anyone who supported GamerGate in any capacity, and did not repent.

* is the appropriate response to this.
posted by SansPoint at 7:08 PM on May 24, 2018 [19 favorites]

Cancer sucks.

This guy was an asshole.

These things are not mutually exclusive.
posted by dazed_one at 7:35 PM on May 24, 2018 [10 favorites]

May he find as much peace as he granted his targets.

Perfect response.
posted by aramaic at 7:39 PM on May 24, 2018 [10 favorites]

It's been fascinating watching my feed process this, because for some people, particularly indies, he was genuinely important and warm and caring, and even if they're marginalised people themselves, appear to have no idea they're saying 'well, he never did anything appropriate to ME'. And then the other half of my feed is basically restraining themselves from singing 'ding dong, the witch is dead' and I'm pretty sure none of them feel much compassion for the family because the family, after all, supported someone who made so many people miserable.

It's been interesting watching people, who think of themselves as both compassionate and just, decide which one they value more.

You know, it's just like a gaming celebrity to force an unfair moral quandry on everyone.
posted by Merus at 7:55 PM on May 24, 2018 [10 favorites]

What meager good he may have done for the world is surely outweighed by how much he prevented by the people he worked to silence.
posted by one for the books at 8:07 PM on May 24, 2018 [8 favorites]

Billy Joel was wrong, all kinds of people die young.
posted by rhizome at 8:10 PM on May 24, 2018 [12 favorites]

I think I’m going to go eat some nachos and drink beer to ... mourn ... what we’ve lost. Probably a few beers, and spicy nachos. Possibly tacos al pastor as well, because more flavor = better. So, dots for my nachos:

posted by aramaic at 8:16 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I see the whitewashing has begun.
posted by Yowser at 8:26 PM on May 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

My Evangelical parents would say "Now he knows the truth" which is a nice thought, but except instead of being judged before the throne of God I imagine he's been pulled aside by Ryan Davis for a stern talking-to.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:37 PM on May 24, 2018 [15 favorites]

A great blight on the gaming industry is gone, and that's the only story I see here. Instead of thinking about his family, I'll spend that time thinking of the people and their families who he helped chase out of their careers, the ability to live a public life, sic'd possibly dangerous people on and just generally denigrated and attacked in the name of 'representing the gamer'.
Good Riddance.

(also flagged as fantastic Mr.Encyclopedia.)
posted by neonrev at 8:44 PM on May 24, 2018 [12 favorites]

He was interesting. I liked a lot of his podcasts, and reviews.

posted by pan at 8:59 PM on May 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

He donated quite a bit to dog charities. I guess that's...better than not having done so.
posted by praemunire at 9:13 PM on May 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

I went through multiple drafts of this comment, wondering what to say.

TB's "WTF is...?" series are so useful, to me as a consumer and to all the indies who got the opportunity to shine because of it.

He was such a big part of the Starcraft community. Early on he caught so much flack for being nothing more than a colour commentator, but through hard work and passion and dedication he became a decent strategic commentator too. He fielded and funded team Axiom. I can't overstate his contributions to the Starcraft community. Certainly Blizzard and the fans understand. He was significant enough to have his own announcer pack in SCII.

He had such a thin skin online, taking criticism as personal attacks. His responses were often predictably hostile, personal, condescending, and dismissive.

And knowing his personality, it was pretty clear to me which side of the gamergate thing he'd fall on... and sure enough, "It's about ethics in video game journalism!!" And he defended that with the same vitriol he applied to many of his online interactions.

On preview: I guess this post got moderated away. I guess I'll just end this by saying I miss him and don't miss him.

posted by theony at 9:33 PM on May 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

A dude just died at 33. The smirking in this thread is sort of nauseating.
posted by Sebmojo at 9:34 PM on May 24, 2018 [10 favorites]

I find the way he harassed and bullied other gamers to be nauseating. I guess I'm sorry he died so young because he won't live long enough to change his ways, but I don't see why it's surprising that the targets of his considerable vitriol aren't sad he won't be bullying them anymore.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:39 PM on May 24, 2018 [36 favorites]

There is no amount of youth at time of death, amount he could have contributed to the Starcraft community (thank god he was there to help the world's largest game company with some unpaid promotion?), amount he could have contributed to sales of indie games (made by people he didn't find objectionable) or cause of death (cancer sucks) that can forgive his active, unapologetic and toxic role as a Gamergate ringleader, and as a dude who straight up was toxic even before that.

There are good people who left the industry over stuff he did, who lived in fear and had to abandon their passion because of his. I cannot give a single fuck about whatever drive or passion he brought to the industry, because that drive and passion made more people leave than one, and he sure as fuck isn't worth any random 2 women who found other work because of his fans hounding them.

He was a net harm on the industry, regardless of any individual experience, and I am not going to feel bad kicking dirt over his grave. I utterly refuse to allow him to be rehabilitated in death, and sure as heck not on here. The man was an active hostile presence for many women, poc and queer people in gaming for years. He doesn't get a 21 gun salute and a viking funeral, he gets spit on.
posted by neonrev at 9:59 PM on May 24, 2018 [45 favorites]

Yeah, that sums up my feelings: a Gamergater isn't hurting people anymore. I don't much care why he stopped, only that he did. If he saw the light and shut up? Great. He died? Still great.

All that matters is that he is no longer in a position to do harm.
posted by mordax at 10:04 PM on May 24, 2018 [16 favorites]

RIP this guy.

Metafilter gave a better send-off to Barbara Bush.
posted by grobstein at 11:55 PM on May 24, 2018

Just realised the post wasn't moderated, apparently I'm just blind and don't know how to CTRL-F.

Anyway, I wanted to add on to Merus' comment too because it is kind of related to what I'm feeling, only it's all in my own single head. I understand the people in this thread who feel "good riddance", because I feel it too. I think it's important for people to know that the how and the what of TB's behaviour and position re: gamergate, all of that was par for the course of him. I also understand the people in this thread who feel a loss, because I feel it too. SHOUTCraft Kings, his casting, his reviews, are no more.

I don't mean to imply that these things are of equal magnitude or value, which they are not. But I do have both feelings.
posted by theony at 12:25 AM on May 25, 2018

Totalbiscuit was somewhat important to me back in 2013/14 when I'd gotten big into pc gaming again and his videos were interesting and enlightening, but,

It was clear even then that he was a bit of a wanker and his subsequent actions have only confirmed that. He had a toxic influence on the industry, not just through his opinions and gamergate propaganda, but also in the way he'd sic his followers on critics and other "enemies".

So I can't feel too sad that he died.

It's fitting I suppose that his fans are currently grepping twitter for his name to see if people are sufficiently reverent.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:25 AM on May 25, 2018 [7 favorites]

No, I won't press F this time, thanks.
posted by omegar at 1:28 AM on May 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

I’ve never heard of this guy before and now I wish I hadn’t. I’m torn because someone has died of a horrible disease yet he just didn’t sound...great. So yeah, best of the web? I beg to differ and the comments here do nothing to shower their authors or subject in glory. The whole thing leaves a nasty taste in my mouth.
posted by Jubey at 3:03 AM on May 25, 2018

In the past, maybe 5 years ago(?), I enjoyed a number of this guys videos. No clue what they were for, but I remember being entertained. I hadn't really kept up with his output, so I wasn't familiar with his GamerGate "contributions". This post, along with the Arrested Development one yesterday really makes me wonder if the me of 5-10 years ago was blind to shitty behaviour in the media I consumed. (maybe I still am?)

There's a small itch in my head that wants to look stuff up about his behaviour, as if i'll find evidence that I wasn't mistaken in enjoying his content. I know that's just that itch seeking confirmation bias, but it's weird to feel like you've been a bad judge of character.

I've not been personally privy to the bad behaviour, and i don't really want to spend any time digging up toxic shit when there's so much freely available, so i'll not pile on with the grave spitting.

I'm sad that someone has died, and that someone with such an impact on other people couldn't have used more of that influence in nicer ways than he did.
posted by trif at 4:05 AM on May 25, 2018

The mods on /r/gamerghazi, the anti-GG sub, are deleting any negative comments about him today. How soon they forget how much more difficult he made the lives of people he targeted.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:42 AM on May 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

I'm not feeling the need to plate-of-beans it at this man's funeral.

posted by sfenders at 4:47 AM on May 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

People are complicated. "Good" people are complicated, "bad" people are complicated. There are many facets to a person's life, and it's possible that TB was a hugely positive influence in some folks' lives even as he was a hurtful person to many others.

I lost a friend who was mere years older than TB to cancer just last fall, and it truly isn't a death I'd wish on my worst enemies. Cancer sucks.

That said, I can still appreciate the irony; TB regularly, publicly wished cancer in a casual way on people he disliked. He hurt so many people, and was generally a regressive force in the gaming community. I'm not glad he's dead, but he also doesn't deserve to have his reputation rehabilitated in death.

In a world of Trump and ICE, he's hardly the worst thing we've got going on. In a world of Mr. Rogers and Janelle Monae, we should expect better of our celebrities. A fitting tribute is to remember TB as he was, not as we'd have liked him to be.

And of course, cancer sucks.
posted by explosion at 5:06 AM on May 25, 2018 [9 favorites]

As a gamer, I think this thread is a perfectly appropriate place to mourn.

I mourn for the John Bain that could have been, who at one time apparently did believe in actual ethics in games journalism, before he decided that it was easier to latch onto bigoted conspiracy theories that were disproven after literally 10 seconds of investigation. For the John Bain that at one time supported the indie gaming scene and the panoply of viewpoints that indie devs brought to that scene, before he chose to characterize them as harridans and inauthentic poseurs that deserved spite and vitriol and harassment.

I also mourn for the works of the many, many programmers and content producers that we will never get to experience because he decided that a sharp tongue was better directed at marginalized voices than that of the worst aspects of the culture he embodied. For the voices of those people who he and his followers silenced by harassing them out of the industry, off of social media, and in some cases, into hiding. I mourn for those that lived (and perhaps still live) in fear of what his audience was capable of once he turned their energy towards them for no other reason that they needed to drown out anyone pointing out problematic aspects in games and gaming culture.

That is how and what I choose to mourn. Nothing more.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:45 AM on May 25, 2018 [36 favorites]

posted by Samizdata at 12:14 PM on May 25, 2018

Mostly harmful.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 11:01 PM on May 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

John Bain was more than just any run-of-the-mill Gamergater - he was the hate group's most public face, its most visible shotcaller, who performatively tut-tutted about harassment in public when he realized positioning himself as "neutral" would be better for his brand, but continued to give scripts in private and identify targets for legions of followers to harass more or less until his death. He was penning massive lie-ridden diatribes to try to whitewash Gamergate's origins and actions as early as November 2014. He never recanted or repented any of this. He was a misogynistic, transphobic, ringleader of a hate group.

Every breath he took, he used to make the world worse. How dare anyone shame the victims of his abuse - those that are still alive, anyway - when they celebrate that the day that finally ends?
posted by kafziel at 12:02 AM on May 26, 2018 [19 favorites]

This is definitely the best way to prove you're stanning for someone who was totally perfect, by making his name Voldermort & terrorizing anyone who says boo.

A twitter searching hate mob set up in his memory... I guess it’s what he would have wanted.
posted by Artw at 5:47 AM on May 26, 2018 [4 favorites]

TB with some advice he could've done with following himself more often: It's okay to not like things.
posted by sfenders at 7:26 AM on May 26, 2018

posted by riruro at 9:05 AM on May 26, 2018

I'd read some of his posts re his cancer over the last few months and it sounded utterly horrible. Not something I'd wish on anyone. And 33 is no age to check out.

Not a nice person, a thin skinned bully... which takes a lot away from the merits of his journalism and criticism. He could have been so much more... could have done some much for games and gaming culture. But he wasn't and he didn't.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:10 AM on May 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

For me that last link goes to a reddit-wide search for TotalBiscuit. The results are of course at this time dominated by largely respectful memorial threads such as the GamerGhazi one. Even they are much more kind to him than is metafilter. Beyond that though, the ones I see denouncing him are from the gamergate crowd, who have recently been upset by TB saying something mean about Trump, sticking up for trans people at a conference, and generally going "full SJW".

Perhaps the link is meant to go to the search limited to /r/GamerGhazi. The results there include updates about the cancer, a couple of mildly impolitic things he said on Twitter, an incident where his enemies attacked someone en masse for being too nice to him, that one tweet that openly mocked "otherkin", TotalBiscuit Slams British National Painting Gallery For “Appalling Frame-Rate”, and then of course the 3-year-old gamergate stuff where he mostly tried to get them to stop it with the ad hominem attacks and focus on "ethics in games media". That was, after all, an abiding interest he'd had for years before it became the pretext for the horror show. Defending gamergate after it became indefensible seems to be the worst of what he's clearly guilty of. There are of course some who would consequently blame him for everything other people did in its name, but they seem unable come up with much substance in support of this view over there on reddit.

There must be better a better archive of John Bain jerkiness out there somewhere. I know he had more of a talent for it than is apparent there.
posted by sfenders at 4:37 PM on May 27, 2018

So we're once again stuck on looking for receipts for abuse? We're once again saying "Oh well I see no hard evidence that he personally ever was directly responsible for the horrible things many people say he did to them, given a cursory glance at the community of his followers" to forgive stuff, to ignore what people are directly telling you?

Being unaware, being ignorant of what was happening at the height of gamergate, not knowing about the people who he lied about, attacked, doxxed, or that he 100% without a doubt, oh my god how is this even a question, was a huge, massive, possibly most important 'intellectual leader' of hundreds of the exact sort of bigoted, hateful and violent gamer who pretty seamlessly transitioned into Trump supporters, that doesn't make us mean, or cruel, or anything. If anything, I envy you. Being able to not notice him must have been such a comfort. Not everyone enjoyed that comfort.

I'm also sure there's a better repository of his bullshit out there, but I lived through gamergate and I don't really want to return to that well of shit to prove it to anyone. I look forward to whenever Jordan Peterson dies of some disease and we all fall over ourselves making sure we don't look like we're being mean to anyone.
posted by neonrev at 10:18 AM on May 28, 2018 [7 favorites]

It's not like I wasn't there three years ago as well, the time when TotalBiscuit was regularly making the reddit front pages. Having known him only from his youtube videos, it wasn't my fight, so I demurred. Having failed to decipher it all back then is part of what motivated me to follow the link and spend some time browsing the TotalBiscuit outrage archives. The problems in trying to understand it are just as I remember: So much noise, innuendo, manufactured controversy, third-hand rumors touted as "proof", sentence fragments taken out of context and read as uncharitably as possible, guilt by association, exaggeration, extrapolation, misunderstanding on all sides. Maybe I'm falling victim to some kind of illusion where the justified anger and criticism looks smaller than it is when standing next to all that.

In any case, it's appalling that this shit is still going on. Condolences to anyone and everyone caught up in it.
posted by sfenders at 3:57 PM on May 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

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