Today I'm happy to share an interview I had with Kevin Buster, who you will likely recognize as Agrippa Maxentius from his prolifi...

An Interview with Agrippa Maxentius An Interview with Agrippa Maxentius

An Interview with Agrippa Maxentius

An Interview with Agrippa Maxentius





Today I'm happy to share an interview I had with Kevin Buster, who you will likely recognize as Agrippa Maxentius from his prolific Youtube channel where he posts gameplay videos of numerous war and strategy games.


Tell us a bit about your background, what led you into playing so many wargames and other historically themed games?

You know, since I was a young child "about 4" I was obsessed with strategy in general. My family made regular trips from the U.S to Portugal and I remember the former airline "TWA" had diagrams of maps in all of their on-board magazines. I remember taking pens and drawing potential "alternative history" countries and leading fictional armies to attack one another. At about the age of 8 my father got a PC and I discovered "Panzer General" and "Civil War Generals 2" I was completely hooked. I had always been partial to history, and remember watching "The Longest Day" over and over at a young age, I must have seen that film 30 or 40 times. I enjoy the genre, I see it on a sort of "Grander" scale and often find myself actually imagining how my attacks would look in real life, or how for instance a fictional country I am leading in a Grand Strategy Title would be, how daily life would be for the civilians etc.


Why the name Agrippa Maxentius? Is it in reference to a particular historical figure or figures?

My favorite "Military" figure was always Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, particularly because he was loyal to no end, but also because he was of fairly common blood and still managed to achieve an extremely high position in his field. Sadly this name was taken, so I went for the whole Jungian duality of my most loved General "Agrippa" and my most hated Roman emperor "Maxentius". If I had a nickel for every time someone referred to me as Agrippa "Maximus" I'd be a rich man.





Tell us the story of how you got your start in making videos and how that has progressed over time.

When I was fairly young my family moved up to New York and I ended up joining a high school that specifically focused on Drama, Musical Theater etc. I found myself getting a lot of roles and soon started doing some commercials, student films and theater work at a pretty young age, but soon lost interest and sort of just drifted around not doing much for a few years. I remember sitting down with a friend and watching "Krebs" on YouTube, a fellow that did let's plays of "Company of Heroes" matches and I really enjoyed them. It didn't click at first, but after a year or so I decided to mix my drama background and my interest in such games, I figured "I can do this if I try hard enough". After that, I started getting paid for my voice work and so in the end I considered it a good trade.


You’ve covered a ton of historical periods, what is your favorite?

Definitely the Cold War, particularly the conflicts in Angola both pre and post colonial. The Vietnam War is also a big deal to me, my father was a 1st Lieutenant in the 577 Corps of Engineers so I think I got that interest from him. I'd also have to say the period in between WW1 and WW2, particularly the Spanish Civil War. The 20th century in general is definitely my favorite time period for conflicts.


While we’re on the topic of favorites, do you have a particular game or series that you enjoy above all others?

There are so many great games out there, for me to narrow it down to one single game would really be a travesty. I can certainly give some games that come to my mind as the most accurate depictions of war, or a war like environment but admittedly these all come with their own positives/negatives. (Graviteam Tactics, Decisive Campaigns Operation Barbarossa, Ultimate General Civil War) truth be told this list could go on for quite a bit.




How do you decide which games you will do videos on? Is it a matter of personal preference or which game you think will be more popular?

That's a great question, especially with the way YouTube is changing and seemingly disallowing advertisements for videos that focus on controversial subjects. Initially I started the channel as a hardcore strategy channel, that is to say we didn't stray from controversial wars and conflicts and in many ways we continue not to. I have tried to go for some more mainstream strategy games, but the community is nowhere near as receptive as with the more hardcore titles "Graviteam Tactics, Close Combat, Tank Warfare Tunisia 1943". Ideally i'd like to draw in a more mainstream audience with a well known title and slowly convert them to pure wargaming, but the experiment has been spotty at best.


I know that Youtube has made a lot of changes in the recent past that shook up things for content creators. Could you tell us more about how those changes have affected you and your channel?

I would say that the changes made especially initially affected smaller wargamers like myself very significantly. I saw an immediate hit to my income, dropping about 50% as most of my videos were deemed "Not Advertiser Friendly" after requesting a review copy most of these videos have been reinstated, but that leads me to ask the question "Why were they demonetized in the first place?" The problem still continues, and since I get most of my video views in the first 24 hours, even after the video has been "Deemed advertiser friendly" I've lost most if not all the revenue I could have claimed for it.




What does your weekly schedule look like? I know plenty of our readers would love to get paid to play games all day. Is it more work than one might imagine?

Generally speaking one major benefit to being a Youtuber or working for yourself is having the ability to pick your own work hours. That sounds a lot better than it actually is. On a productive day I'll typically wake up and read the news, occasionally I'll crank up a documentary relating to a conflict in the past and try and generate some ideas for a new series. There are a ton of videos that I have put 1-2 hours of work into and then simply scrapped, so generally when you're seeing 10 minutes on screen you have to keep in mind the many hours snipped away during the editing process. YouTube is a lot of work, people don't understand the difficulty in trying to play a game and provide entertaining commentary at the same exact time. Your brain is working overtime, and trying to multitask while struggling with all of the conflicting information. You may be in the middle of a fight, discussing a similar conflict that occurred during the actual war when suddenly an enemy tank shell rips through your men. What do you do now, do you suddenly put your story on hold and focus on the action, do you switch to the action and potentially risk forgetting the story you were just telling moments ago? Then comes the editing, initially I found editing to be a real pain but as with most things, over time it just becomes a small part of the overall process.

As for those wishing to get their main paycheck from YouTube I would only say "Have a second job, and be prepared for a long and arduous road that may or may not lead anywhere".


Are there any mediums that you have used to reach people besides video? Have you done written articles or podcasts or anything else?

I've done a number of voice work bits, primarily commercial voice work for larger companies. I haven't merged into any other areas as of yet but I would certainly like to. I'm not sure I would be very adept at a "History" podcast, to be honest with you I often learn a lot more from my subscribers than you can even begin to imagine. I would however love to narrate a historical novel of some sort in audiobook form, and I am always open to a fun podcast with fellow strategy gamers. I tend not to take myself too seriously, if I make a mistake I'll often laugh at myself for it, and despite my mistakes I am not too critical of myself. Overall I think the goal is to have fun, and to entertain people while doing it.


Regarding your commercial voice work, where might we have heard some of it?

I've done a number of the trailers for the Order of Battle series, Burma Road and Kriegsmarine come to mind, but these aren't the only ones. I've also done tutorials for "Wars of Napoleon" "Carrier Deck" as well as "Battle of the Bulge" most of which can be accessed in game, many of these if not all can be found on YouTube. Outside of Slitherine I have done voice work for Franks Deli Mustard, Delta and even Coreg heart medicine. Most of these played on radio stations in the American Northeast, I have the files but no link to any sort of radio station clip. If anyone is interested, you can always reach me at agrippamaxentius@gmail.com and I can shoot you over my commercial demo reel. I continue to provide streaming services as well but haven't put the same focus into finding voice gigs as I have into building the channel, however I am always open or business and do plan on furthering that career.


So, you worked directly for Slitherine for a while, now you're back out on your own. What was that like and how does it feel to be independent again?

This is true, I worked as the Public Relations Manager for Slitherine and now work independently from home, however I still have a close relationship with the company and continue to produce streams for them as well as provide tutorials/voice work whenever needed. Slitherine/Matrix will always have a special place in my heart, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time working at the company and consider it a valuable learning experience. I think anytime you move from an office environment to a home office environment there are going to be a certain degree of positives and negatives, at home you have a degree of freedom which can't be found in an office, but at the same time you aren't surrounded by a team of professionals who are capable of assisting you when you are having a work-related issue. Also the staff at companies like Slitherine are just the best, that includes the management, being in a work environment with people who share similar interests is always rewarding. Money wise, unless you give it a lot of time and effort do not expect to be pulling in a larger check by working for yourself, a lot more work for a lot less gain if you go the independent route.


This question is a bit heavier, but it's something I ponder for myself from time to time, so I'm always interested to hear another person's take on it: We have fun playing games that depict conflicts where real people died in awful ways, and countless survivors came home scarred by the things they saw and did. Do you ever feel conflicted about this juxtaposition of experiences?

No, not at all, not for a moment. I do feel that the juxtaposition Is an important one to consider, without a doubt most wargamers have reflected on this in the past. We have to be able to differentiate between venerating war and outright promoting it. I feel that reflecting and being entertained by re-living these wars in a virtual world is very different from actually wanting to be in them. One thing that helped me come to terms with depicting recent conflicts are the many subscribers on my channel who are current or ex-military veterans, who assure me that they appreciate the content I provide. I do my absolute best to present a gray picture of war in all the content I provide, simplistic terms like "Good Guys/Bad Guys" have no place in most wars, if anything I believe wargames help to educate people about the horrors of war. Context is also important, if you're passing on wargaming as a hobby to your children for instance, make sure to provide relevant context about the conflict they are fighting, reassure them that a game is one thing, but real conflict is entirely different. This is such a fascinating question and I really could go on and on about it but I think I have made my point. For the record I do find war to be abhorrent and something that should be avoided if at all possible.


What games are coming up this year that you can’t wait to play?

“We: The Revolution" and hopefully the upcoming Close Combat just off the top of my head.





What are your short and long term goals for you channel?

Short term I would love to get some more ideas for strategy titles to take on, and in general just get a feel for what people really want to see. While I get most of my views from certain games, once you play the same game over and over your commentary tends to become quite stale and you end up running out of topics to discuss. My dream would be to find a more mainstream strategy game that really generates enough interest to draw in larger groups of people to the channel, but also one that the hardcore wargamers can enjoy. Long term I would obviously love to become one of the premier strategy channels on YouTube, as big as legends like Arumba and Quill18. If I was able to generate those views my goal would be to give a percentage of that income to either charities helping disabled military veterans, or children affected by war. Lastly I want my more obscure and controversial coverage of conflicts such as the "Chechen War" to not only be sources of entertainment, but perhaps also assist in educating people about wars they may have never even heard about. If anything I think the worst thing we can do to the fallen is forget about them entirely.


Thank you for your time Kevin, this was a really interesting niche of the hobby to learn more about!

If you are interested in seeing more of Kevin’s work head over to his Youtube channel by simply clicking this link. He adds new videos on a regular basis, playing a variety of great games!


- Joe Beard

3 comments :

  1. Good interview. He plays a lot of good games that doesn't get so much youtube videos, very niche but also faithful audience.

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  2. Thank you for the interview! It helped me to find a very good and interesting youtube channel.

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  3. Great interview! As a regular on the channel I very much appreciate the quality of Kev's content, and the historical depth he interweaves with the certainly engaging entertainment aspect. Thanks for taking the time to put this interview together and getting a more in-depth part of the story out there!

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