The high notes of being a shoutcaster
- These days, Ranjit Patel building his career as an eSports commentator, while looking to break a few stereotypes associated with gaming
- Ranjit Patel started out in the world of first-person shooter games with Counter-Strike, in 2007
A broken leg landed Ranjit Patel, now 22, his first video game console in school. While it was all entertainment back in the day, he soon learnt of the eSports industry, which was on the verge of flourishing in India. It was enough reason for him to put a conventional computer engineering career on hold and explore his options in the world of gaming.
These days, he’s building his career as an eSports commentator, while looking to break a few stereotypes associated with gaming.
“Since childhood, every step of the way, I’ve had to counter different arguments. Like gaming makes you unhealthy and violent. And, of course, that gaming is not a career," Patel says.
He started out in the world of first-person shooter games with Counter-Strike, in 2007. At first, he played solo against computer bots. Once he improved, he started joining online networks to take on other gamers around the world.
“The opportunity to play in teams and work with others towards a common objective was something that I was very fond of," he says.
In 2012, Patel got his first taste of competition at a local tournament in Ahmedabad. Back home, his mother thought he was spending too much time playing, until he appeased his family by gaining admission to Sarvajanik College of Engineering and Technology in Surat. In the next few years, he was playing Battlefield 3 for a team that was among the top three in the country and soon joined another in Indonesia for Battlefield 4 while sitting in his home in Surat. “You need to practise after school or work while accounting for the different time zones. Everyone usually gets together only at the end of the day," Patel says. “I asked my parents to give me four years to explore gaming as a career option, else I would give it up and work an average job."
When an Indian team was playing at one of the competitions in 2015, a friend requested help with casting, which essentially means doing commentary for a game.
A good command on English and the ability to present insights on the gameplay made it a fun experience for Patel. Two days later, when the other commentator couldn’t make it to the studio, Patel was casting 10 games on his own.
Though exhausted at the end of a 12-hour workday, Patel realized he had found his calling: shoutcaster. “It’s not like cricket, which has a laid-back environment when it comes to commentary. You have to actually hype up the plays, so that the audience is able to feel what is going on—a lot of screaming and shouting, lot of emotions," he says.
Patel recalls being one of only two commentators in India at the time, which gave him the early mover advantage. He would watch videos of other commentators around the world to pick up useful tips, while also replaying his own games to see where he could improve. Just a week after starting out, he did his first paid gig, and in 2016, he hosted a real-time event in Bengaluru.
The same year, he landed a casting assignment at the World Cyber Arena in China. “That was my breakthrough event, which put me on the map and helped me make connections internationally," he says.
The days and nights were a blur. The European gigs would start at 1am in India, and after working till 6am, Patel would catch some sleep before leaving for college. The money was good as well, almost twice the amount that a fresh engineer would make, despite working fewer days.
A company signed him up to do commentary exclusively for them.
The live events led to other lucrative opportunities, where Patel was asked to host a show and engage an analyst in conversation.
On average, an eSports commentator can make between ₹50,000 and ₹2.5 lakh a month. “When I started out, I would be handling the camera, commentating as well as producing the show. These days, there are specialized roles and anyone interested can make a career as a caster, analyst, observer, coach, manager or work in production," Patel says.
The players’ community too has grown since games like PUBG and Call Of Duty were made available on phones. At the Asian Games last year, eSports was featured as a demonstration sport.
“It became so hectic at one point, that I was flying five times a month on average. These days, I pick and choose my assignments. There’s enough work out there if you’re good," says Patel.Work Shift is a series on professions that didn’t exist a decade ago.
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FIRST PUBLISHED17.12.2019 | 08:31 PM IST