What are three tips you would give to new casters that would help them build and maintain an audience? What social channels should they use, and what methods could they use to increase their viewership?
Nick: The best tip I can give is not to worry about your audience at all; instead, focus on your own improvement. There are plenty of opportunities out there, but to maximize your potential, you need to prioritize self-improvement.
Chris: For new casters, I recommend creating a profile on Twitter and Facebook using your handle. Start networking with other casters, pro players, and high-profile community members. You should also build a YouTube Channel. Publish videos regularly--at least one a week. Launch your videos on a consistent schedule; this way your fans will always know when a new video is coming out, and you will train them to visit your page daily/weekly.
And lastly, always look to improve your product. Listen to feedback, and adjust to cater to your fans. Look through the comments on YouTube, [and] ask for opinions on Twitter and Facebook.
What are three things to avoid that might push an audience away?
Nick: The biggest three things that can alienate an audience are lack of genuine excitement, poor use of language, and lack of game knowledge.
Chris: In order to keep your audience interested, don’t spread yourself too thin. Focus on one game or genre and master it.
Do not be too critical. No one wants to listen to a person who comes off as negative. Stay positive and complimentary during your casts.
It is natural to want to discuss what you would do differently from the pros in any situation. Don’t do it. No one cares what you would do. If you did things better than the pros, you would be a pro player, not casting.
And be sure to stay neutral. I wouldn’t talk about your favorite sports teams or players. I’m a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, but when I talked about them on Twitter, I actually saw a few people unfollow me.
When you're casting a live or recorded match, what are three things you need to keep in mind in order to keep the audience entertained? Specifically: (Chris) what aspects of an FPS match (like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2) do you always want to show the audience? (Nick) What aspects of the gameplay does the audience like to see in general?
Nick: The audience likes to see casters play to their strengths. My main casting skill is my strategic knowledge and analytics, so I try to focus on those during casts.
Chris: To keep your audience entertained, tell a story. Create a storyline and develop it throughout the match. You should also follow the players that best show what is going on in the game. In FPS matches, you will have 8-10 player perspectives to choose from. The most challenging part of casting is finding the right players to follow throughout the game.
When there is no objective play happening you will want to find the player who is on a hot streak (Lots of kills, very few deaths). Follow the objective when possible. It doesn’t always have to be from the objective player's perspective, but at least have the objective visible from the perspective of a protecting teammate or static camera. Always show the start and end of an objective play (bomb plant and detonation, flag steal and capture). Show the player using the powerweapons. Power weapons can turn the tide in any game.
What are three things (that might not be obvious) to avoid while casting games?
Nick: Three things to avoid when casting: Saying what's going on in the game instead of describing it, focusing excessively on relatively minor things, and rushing thoughts.
Chris: This is a tough one! Don’t get too “hype.” Over-inflecting or always yelling can quickly turn off the audience. It is important to have peaks and valleys in your cast. Don’t try to be funny. Let it happen naturally. And, don’t try to go back and correct yourself if you slip up. When possible, correct yourself in the same sentence, but don’t revisit a mistake later in the cast. Keep going. Only you will notice.
What are some pre-game rituals you or other casters use to get ready for a big event? For example: Do you practice talking in a mirror, do vocal exercises, or take a shot of your favorite bourbon?
Nick: I talk to as many of the competitors as possible prior to the event, and then make sure I stay hydrated. A shot of Noah Hill never hurt anybody either.
Chris: I always have a pen on me and write out notes. Whether it’s the show format, details on players, the settings that will be used--basically anything I want to remember when the camera turns on. The pen has to be a fine point and not a rollerball. I pack them for every event.
My morning ritual always consists of a long shower with hot water for steam. Chugging as much water as I can swallow and ironing my shirt and blazer whether or not they need it. I always listen to music on my way to the venue.When I first started casting, I used to have a bottle of Captain Morgans hidden under my desk; I’d mix it with my Dr. Pepper, and throughout rehearsal I’d drink a little bit to relax and calm my nerves.
Special thanks go out to Nick "Axslav" Ranish (@iSAxslav) and Chris Puckett (@MLGPuckett) for the interviews.