You might have noticed that esports is really big at rAge 2017. And big esports brings big shoutcasters, which is how I ended up in an interview with Lauren “Pansy” Scott, one of the ESL’s most recognised voices. We spoke about shoutcasting, esports, and I even managed to ask her a question that nobody else ever has. Make your way over to the Kwesé Gamer stage to catch some pro gaming at rAge 2017.
Why the nickname “Pansy”?
So, essentially, I was playing a game called Enemy Territory, it’s kind of old now, to say the least. I was on a public server, I was quite young, and I was kind of camping out in a corner, being pretty passive and being annoying. I was playing it against this American guy, and he was like “Urgh, you’re being such a pansy!” I thought it was really funny, and the way to annoy people was just to put it as my name. And it kind of just stuck.
What was the first video game you remember playing?
It would probably be Doom, I used to play it with my dad a fair bit. If I got stuck on a level and got kind of confused somewhere, he’d take over. Or if I got scared of some very poorly animated demon, then I would let him jump back in.
What drew you into shoutcasting?
Well, I used to be a quote-unquote professional player, as much as that could be maybe five or six years ago. And, basically I just had to get a real job. It simply just didn’t pay at the time, it didn’t matter how good you were. It was very much a niche within a niche, which it still kind of is. I had to get a real job, I chose to do something horrifically boring, and I still commentated on the side though. Eventually people seemed to like it, which was surprising.
I did that for a while, and eventually ESL started to really come into it, run leagues, get sponsorships, make money, get advertisement. And then they offered me a job, but it was out in Germany, so I was, like, this is kind of terrifying. But I went for it. I had to move from London to Germany, so it’s not that far when you think about it.
What do your parents think of your job?
Now? Very supportive, now they think it’s great. Probably about two years ago, they didn’t really have any idea what it was. They kind of knew, but not really. And they were super proud when they saw all these videos of stadiums, all this crazy stuff.
What advice would you give to prospective shoutcasters?
Don’t do it, leave all the money to me (laughs). No, if there’s any advice I could give people it would be: don’t expect instantly to get on the big stages, be a bit humble about it. Take your time, become established, build your own fanbase, build your own audience, and work on it.
What vocal warmups do you do?
I actually very rarely do it. Generally it’s just kind of, singing along to really bad music actually helps. Surprisingly, especially in a very hot shower. It’s literally the only thing that I do is take an incredibly hot shower in the morning, sing awful music like Fall Out Boy. Nothing particularly taxing, just a nice little bit of pop-punk. And then at least I feel like I’ve actually used my voice. If I just go in cold, I feel like I could strain myself.
As a shoutcaster you have to be flexible. What training and preparation go into learning how to shoutcast a new game?
Now that’s a tricky one. I guess the example I’ll use is Player Unkown’s Battlegrounds. Superhot game right now, most played game on Steam, crazy stats. I personally love that type of game, I played DayZ, I played ARMA, I played all the battle royale stuff leading up to it. I was already a fan of the genre, so it wasn’t too much of a job for me.
But, it’s just putting in hours. If you already know how to commentate, if you’ve got the basics down on how to do that, you don’t need to relearn that. You apply it in a new way. And you find a way to do what you did before that suits that game.
With ESL making its debut in South Africa, how do you think esports can grow in the continent?
If I’m putting it honest, this reminds me very much of how esports was in Europe maybe four, five years ago. And that’s not a bad thing, that’s not insulting, I mean that’s what it was like when I first joined. We were at convention centres, we were at expos, we would have a stage. But it’s about building presence, and building an audience that can relate to something.
You want a team to get behind, you want someone to watch. And we’ve got that here, there’s teams that are very good. But it’s a platform, it’s a springboard for these teams to kind of get into the public eye. So again, I guess this is a very good starting place.
I know a few people in the scene in South Africa who have seen this grow, and see this as a very high point. For me I see this as a bridging gap, where it can suddenly get bigger and you can have standalone events rather than being at an expo. It’s kind of the building blocks to have a very sustainable audience.
In your opinion, what advantage does esports have compared to traditional sports?
I’m going to say it in relation to what I’ve had experience with, is the fact that esports has the young audience. And it’s something that TV and traditional media don’t have as much. Now, Netflix has kind of taken over, your YouTube stuff, this kind of content is becoming king with the young audience. And we get the young audience, the demographic that TV companies kind of need these days.
So, time for a heavy question. Have you encountered difficulties in your profession as a woman?
Yes and no. I sit in a weird position on this. I think that everyone gets some stick online. I think they’ll pick whatever they can to have a go at you about, because it’s the online space. Whether you like it or not, anonymity breeds that.
For me, sure, I do get a bit of stick for it sometimes. Some people are like “I just don’t like your voice”, and sometimes it will be a lot worse than that. If you care that much about the negative stuff, you’re never going to do your job.
Enjoying rAge so far?
Oh yeah, the expo’s been pretty incredible. Again, it makes me feel like events I don’t get to see anymore in Europe, because we generally don’t do shows like this.
What are you still looking forward to doing here?
At rAge, I do want to see an upset. I want to see Bravado not win, because they’re like the top team to smash everyone. Which will probably happen. But the concept of someone doing an upset while I’m watching is cool.
Here’s an odd one: what question do you always wish someone would ask you, but never has?
(Silence) I’ve done a lot of interviews, and I’ve not had that question. That’s a good question to ask, I’ve got no idea what to say. I’ve got to think on that.
If it comes to you while you’re shoutcasting…
I will say it on air! That’s a very odd question, because generally most of what I want to say comes out on air, or on my Twitter. Somewhere between that, I answer most things.
Lastly, what word or term have you invented that you wish more people would give you credit for?
I don’t think I’ve made a word. I’d say phrasing wise I’ve destroyed several, terrible, phrases. Overused them constantly. I’d say I’ve brought back, or I’ve made the phrase “headfirst for halos”. That was one I’ve kind of pushed back in, and I’ve heard people using. “Tit for tat”, which is hilarious hearing that. Also “above and beyond”. So those kind of phrases were basically my problem of repeating it too much, now every other caster does it too. So I kind of feel like I’ve created a plague and just kind of spread it out.