[email protected]: Em Dangla (aka Kaisaya) the voice of eSports
As a shoutcaster (or caster for short), Kaisaya, whose real name is Em Dangla, provides a running commentary of the game during an in-person or online eSports event. Much like what broadcasters do in sports like basketball or soccer, she provides play-by-play, analysis, and backgrounder of the game, players, and more. Some casters also hype up the game to bring in more excitement for the audience, although Em says she tries to avoid doing that.
With the continuous growth and expansion of eSports here in the Philippines, sportscasting has become a viable career path for those who love gaming and has the knowledge and skills to back up their passion. Em, who had her first casting gig in 2017, got into the game early on. Now, she’s part of the TV5 Network’s initiative to bring comprehensive broadcasting of eSports content on free TV, as a shoutcaster for the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang events of The Nationals, the country’s first-ever franchise-based eSports league.
Over coffee, Em shared with us her beginnings in sportscasting, what it takes to succeed in this booming field, her deep-rooted love for gaming, and everything else she’s busy with on the side. Then she dashes off to Mineski Studio for a shoutcasting gig she’s booked to do for that day.
The start of it all
Em’s interest in gaming started way back when she was a child. Her first gaming gear is the then popular FamiCom—the Family Computer Disk System. It was given to her by her father gave when he came back to the Philippines from working abroad. There she played Super Mario Bros. and other titles. Those were her first memories of gaming.
When her parents opened an internet cafe, she then moved on to playing Counter-Strike, Battle Realms, Diablo, and other PC games. Em continued to expand her horizon, trying out games in consoles like PlayStation and Game Boy. When online games such as Ragnarok came, there was no way Em would pass up trying to play those, too.
“It was my way of entertaining myself,” says Em. Gaming also served as her motivation to finish her homework and lessons for the day so she can play right after.
When Em was considering what to take up in college, gaming became a big factor in her decision. “I wanted to create games,” Em quips, remembering how in awe she was when she first played video games, wondering how the things in front of her worked. This inspired her to take a course related to programming.
Em graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with specialization in Software Technology from De La Salle University-Manila. She then took up her Master’s degree in Business Administration majoring in Entrepreneurship at the University of Sto. Tomas. During her undergrad until she started working, Em continued to fuel her passion for games, focusing on gaming-related topics and projects.
The path to casting
For several years, Em juggled freelance and full-time work, along with various gigs in between. But after a few years, she settled on a full-time freelancing career to spend more time with her son.
This gave her extra time to try out new games, and that was the time she discovered Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. “Casual gaming lang,” says Em. “Until mag-post [ang Mobile Legends: Bang Bang in 2016] na naghahanap sila ng pwedeng mag-stream sa national arena nila.” Although clueless yet when it came to streaming games, she took the opportunity and began to research about it.
At first, she simply streamed the game, showing the feed live on Facebook. But she eventually got bored with the setup, so Em tried to talked to the viewers. Later on, she added a story to her spiels, bringing color and depth to the gameplay. “I wasn’t just showing the feed of the game. But at the same time, I was also describing what’s happening in the game and providing analysis on why this is happening,” says Em. Unbeknownst to her, what she was doing was already shoutcasting.
It was only when she saw a call for casters by Electronic Sports and Gaming Summit (ESGS) in 2017 that she realized that this was something she can venture into. Still, there wasn’t enough information on the internet about shoutcasting for Em to go with, especially since eSports wasn’t as pervasive in the country then as it is today. There wasn’t a handbook to shoutcasting so she had to refer to other countries’ rules and guidelines to improve her skills. She also watched other casters, picking up styles and tips along the way.
From there, she built her own personality and brand as a shoutcaster. “I tried to explore my style. Am I the funny type or a serious analyst caster? I also look at which style fits the event,” Em says. According to her, when the gig requires Filipino casting, she tends to be more analytical of the game, providing insights on the characters, moves, and strategies. When it’s in English, she does more of play-by-play casting.
Today, Em has become one of the regular faces and voices in mobile game tournaments. You’ll see her sharing her expertise and knowledge to livestream viewers, particularly of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and Arena of Valor.
The makings of a great shoutcaster
So what does it takes to be a good sportscaster? Em shares the basic knowledge and skills one must at least have.
First, you must know how to play the game and be familiar with the characters and heroes in the and their abilities. “Hindi mo kailangan na high-ranking ka. It’s not required,” assures Em. “You just have to play the game.”
“Second is you have to research and study,” Em says. But it’s not just all by the book. According to her, you also have to understand the strategies made by the players.
The third one: practice. It doesn’t have to be on an actual eSports event; you can practice in your place alone. Record yourself casting and then listen to it to see where you can improve on. Em enumerates some of the questions you can ask yourself when critiquing your practice casting. “Do you sound okay? Nagsasa-stutter ka ba? Masyado ka bang madaldal? Masyado bang matinis ang boses mo o mabilis kang magsalita?”
The next thing to do is to actually try out a casting gig. This allows you to get the feel of the actual job. Plus, you can get videos of your performance after so you can see how you fared in an actual shoutcasting event and get feedback from the viewers of the event. “Maraming bashers. Maraming pupuna sayo. You have to take all those in,” Em suggests.
Another thing to do is to build your portfolio. When you work in a project, jot it down—take note of the date, find links of the videos for references. So when the time comes that you need them, it’s already within reach in a breeze.
Em cautions aspiring shoutcasters, though, that having all the things above doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get the job. Sometimes organizers have particular requirements when it comes to the shoutcasters they want for the tournament, so you need to go through several auditions to get in.
Lastly, Em leaves this advice to people who are interested to get into shoutcasting, streaming, or gaming in general: “You need to have discipline. A lot of people ang nagga-grind to beef up their portfolio to become a paid streamer or a paid caster to the point of sacrificing their health. Don’t forget to put the passion in your work, but don’t forget your health first. Be passionate about gaming, but balance things. Be a responsible gamer and be responsible about whatever role you have in your life. Never lose hope and don’t compare yourself with others. Just focus on your goals.”