With eSports (and gaming in general) growing at a phenomenal rate in South Africa, every now and then we feel the need to remind some of those relatively new to the scene of some of the early roleplayers. Sometimes they can be clans, clan members, players, industry sorts, businesses or event organisers, but almost always, they’re gamers first and foremost.
One such industry sort is Dota 2 shoutcaster HellbirD, who has been an integral part of the growth of shoutcasting – and the growth of competitive gaming generally – since he first grabbed a mic a number of years back.
Hi there. First up, introduce yourself.
Hello, I am Devin ‘HellbirD’ Rigotti, South African shoutcaster and one of the directors of nAvTV.
Tell us, when you got into shoutcasting?
I started out sometime around the International 2011, so although I didn’t take note of the exact day, I’d estimate it would have been in the months that followed it and I imagine my desire to become a caster was influenced by the event.
Did you come from a competitive playing background or did you always prefer spectating more?
I was certainly competitive. I had the good fortune of representing some of the best SA teams from Dota1 and Dota2 as well as the privilege of playing in the European team ‘Who is Hari?’ alongside players like K-I-N-G.
Unfortunately, life catches up with you as you grow older and you have less time to commit to improving with a team… but there are times when I think, “hmm maybe one last go?”
You’re probably best known in the Dota 2 circles. Is that your only focus or are you covering other titles too?
Historically, I have played around with other titles, but nothing to garner real interest. The future is looking more diverse for both nAvTV and I. I can’t say too much yet, but big things are coming.
What do you feel are the main differences between “traditional” sports commentary and shoutcasting?
With someone like Ridditz, very little.
Jokes aside, there are very real comparisons that can be made in all forms of traditional sports and eSports, but eSports do have key differences. Obviously there are items such as the delivery mechanism via streams versus television and the equipment used to do so, but I think the most prominent is the personal relationship casters have with both players and spectators – in time this may change, but for now it’s nothing short of precious and something I don’t think traditional sports invest enough in.
Can anyone get in to shoutcasting, and do you have any tips or advise to anyone who wants to get into it?
Phew, where to start… Theoretically, anyone can. Just open up your favourite game, save it with an applicable program and upload it to YouTube – and hell, it’s generally worth the effort.
Then there is another answer to this question, where we talk about what it takes to be a successful shoutcaster, the knowledge of your title, your vocabulary, the sound of your voice, the sound your voice makes when you get excited, do you get excited, etc etc etc?
My answer and my advice is best summarised as, yes anyone can, if you enjoy it go for it, if you want to be great at it, it takes a great deal of personal investment and sacrifice.
The South African gaming scene certainly appears to be on an upswing at the moment. What do you think is needed to sustain that growth?
Passionate people willing to do a great amount of work for very little in return. That’s unfortunately what it comes down to, some will be fortunate enough to reap the eventual rewards and some will not… Sounds a bit doomy and gloomy, but realistically if we want to make it great, we need to do the work first.
Do you believe the community has a big role to play in growing gaming in general? If so, what would you like to see the community do?
A big role may be an understatement, the community is both why things happen and who is responsible for them happening. So if I a little fairy that made one request come true asked me what I’d like to see from the community, it’d simply be for everyone to keep enjoying what is already happening, get involved and contribute positively where possible.
Honestly, it’s due to the community we have gotten this far – so keep it up guys and girls.
Let’s get to know the man behind the voice a little more.
When you’re not shoutcasting, what games do you play?
I’d be lying if I mentioned any games prominently… As much as it pains me to say, most of my free time outside of casting is spent on nAvTV, organising casting, organising tournaments, dealing with infrastructure, seeking out new talent etc…
The truth is I love games though and I love playing them, I just don’t get enough time to play anymore… >:D hence why I’m looking for an assistant these days >:D
When I do finally get some free that isn’t reserved for family, my significant other or friends – I do have a vast collection, around 150 steam games – of which about 10 are installed and 100 have never been, shout out to those of you who have also fallen prey to the Gaben and a steam summer sale or five.
With that said, the winners are… Dota2… Hearthstone… DayZ.
But to be fair – I have played a lot of games in total, those are probably the three I just like most right now.
Can you remember the first time you ‘gamed’?
I guess this depends on your definition of gaming… The first computer game I ever played was Ally Cat in the grand majesty of DOS! I’d consider the first time I ‘gamed’ though as sitting down with my brother and cousin playing Warcraft 1 (single player).
How long have you been gaming?
Well, the first competitive games I recall really enjoying were Starcraft, Unreal Tournament and Quake 2 (Yes, I got that right number two, before Q3 Arena).
The first time I really got to the point where I felt like I was title contender was back in 2004 when I started DotA… I’ve been around that long – in fact I was a beta tester for Dota1… But I think I’m getting carried away… I’m sure everyone will forgive me for reminiscing a bit.
Overall, I would say that I’ve been gaming competitively since 1997 (as tiny as it was back then) and all in all for 20 years.
Not any time soon. I still have work to do here.
You’re stranded on a desert island and a genie grants you five items. Name them:
A game: World of Warcraft
A CD: Billy Talent Hits
A movie or TV series: ? Naa naa, na na na-naaa, nanana ?
An organic life form: Charizard
Something edible or drinkable: Jameson 18 Year Old
Space Bunnies must die!
Sigh… Oh Allison… We couldn’t help you make your game not terrible…
If you were a game designer, describe your ultimate game design.
Pokemon the MMO! Available on the Oculus Rift! (preferably an even better version of VR).
The zombie apocalypse has happened. You’re facing down a ravenous zombie horde (which may or may not include members of ZG in bikinis). What weapon do you grab?
Charizard! 😀 A genie gave me one!
In the aforementioned zombie apocalypse you humans are all toast. Become a turncoat and assist the superior zombies or stay with the soon to be wiped out human resistance?
I will have you know I have played countless zombie games, from DayZ to NotD the Warcraft 3 mod, I’m definitely a survivor! I’d be pretty pleased with myself if I made it that far… In reality I’m probably patient zero though or “man being eaten in traffic 7”.
Thanks for your time – is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the interview. I’m a ZG fan, so keep up the good work!
And maybe this is a bit early but… 2014 has been amazing, thanks to all the casters, partners, players, friends, team-mates and spectators for making it so memorable.
2015 though… There are things on the horizon, but since I can’t say anymore… Here have a smiley face!
<‘;..;’> – grr
We welcome all gamers, clans and industry sorts regardless of age, sex, creed, platform or whether you’re human or zombie. There’s no discrimination around here, so feel free to contact us if you are keen to feature in this column in the future at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll think about – after you’ve sent us a sample of your braaaaaaiiiiinnnnsss.