BFN attended Gamescom this August and got to meet with Flakfire to have a chat. His Youtube channel has over 70000 subscribers, and he's known for being quick on the news and adding a historical touch to the content.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started.
I am thirty one years old, originally from St. Louis Missouri. I was a news reporter for about 6-7 years, where I worked in a local radio station and did just about everything you can imagine. I did news anchoring, I wrote the stories.
I went back to grad school where I studied intercultural and critical communication, and after that I wound up working in a university [as a teacher] which is what I do now. I teach, I run a film equipment lab and I train students in how to use and keep track of the equipment. While teaching I became a bit worried about my editing and writing skills. Students would ask me questions like "How do I do this?" and I would go "I used to know, and now I don't". I never wanted to have that answer so I decided I would do sort of a video week on games that I like, maybe a tutorial or something like that.
Then, Battlefield 1 came out. I really enjoy WWI history, I've been studying it in my free time for about 3-4 years, so I was fascinated when the trailer came out and I decided to point things out and write it down. 1,5 million views later I was kind of surprised how the subscriber count [on my Youtube channel] went up by like twenty thousand and realized I have to do more of this.
So given that, it must have been big to see this go from a hobby [I guess] with one video a week to three or four a week. How did it happen, do you feel it was organic?
I do. A lot of it is kind of dependent on what EA or DICE are doing. I try to stay relevant and make sure fans of Battlefield get information as soon as something new happens.
What about Battlefield 1 today, do you have a favorite map?
I want to say Verdun Heights. Having been to the actual location, it's pretty accurate. It's cool they were able to do that in game. I think another reason I like Battlefield is that it can teach you a lot. Even though as a game it's not particularly educational, you can learn about history.
We have a lot of members that have their own youtube channel, edit their own footage. Do you have any good starter tips for anyone that wants to pursue this as a career?
You want to be consistent with publishing. A lot of people - I see it all the time in students - they have this great idea "oh I'm gonna make this video and I'll be famous and have millions of views" and they publish it and nothing else. Then they get frustrated and they stop. Or they do a couple of videos and are like "aw I expected a get-rich-quick scheme", you know. I didn't start Youtube for those reasons myself.
Basically be consistent and don't give up. As with anything else, if you try hard enough you're going to make it. The vast majority of people stop. Another thing I can say: Always be aware of what is going on in terms of what you want to cover, whatever you want to make or produce etc. With Battlefield I look at things and say "okay this is relevant right now, I'm gonna do that", other times I say "this is relevant now but it won't be tomorrow, so I'm not gonna do something like that as it's not worth my time". I'm going to do a tutorial video at some point, like how-to-do Youtube.
If we imagine you're the executive producer at DICE, which direction would you take the game [Battlefield]?
I would like to see more of a focus on team play and class play. I think as it stands in Battlefield 1 they kind of deluded some of the mechanics, like repairing vehicles. I dislike being able to do it inside the vehicle, they should have to get out to do it - that kind of stuff.
I would also like to see another historical time period, preferably something that hasn't really been covered by a AAA-game. Something like the Korean war. I think DICE has discovered [with Battlefield 1] that they kind of unearthed a little bit of a gem. It's like "this is a time period not many people thought about, they don't know that much about it". Part of what makes Battlefield 1 so appealing, it's like you open up a box of toys and go "what do these do?!" because you don't know. I think you would get the same kind of feeling if it were set in Korea because it's kind of unfamiliar to a lot of people. It's got a lot of the same potential that Battlefield 1 does in the sense of that people can learn more about that period in time and I think it's a relevant period for people to learn about.
We heard that you're a huge fan of the bayonet charge, probably at a level now where you're a competitive bayonet charger. Do you have any tips for how to use that mechanic the best?
My favorite thing is doing a combination of listening and then do the bayonet charge. I'm listening for it and if somebody is around a corner. One of the weaknesses of the bayonet charge is that if they see you coming, they're able to take you down and it's so rewarding to me, to know where the other person is and time that perfectly. If you're on the receiving end however; step to the side.
History has been a recurring theme with your videos. Did you see an overlap between your interest in it and the game?
Basically, my dad was a marine in the US military. So, I kind of grew up with some of that. The other side of my family is from Switzerland, which is why I also speak German. The military service there is very prevalent, something you have to do, unless you're able to find an alternative. The interest in military stuff has always been there. I started out with WWII and got really interested in American civil war. Then I went to WWI and a few years after that, the Battlefield 1 trailer comes out. For me, the main reason I tie in to historical stuff, is I find it absolutely fascinating. I'll use the term historical easter egg. It's so fun for me, I come across a picture of the actual location and there in the game is something that's really similar.
We're thrilled to have had the opportunity to chat with Flakfire and getting to know him better. You will find his Youtube content by clicking over here, or head over to his Twitter here. We also enjoy the historical aspects that gaming can be linked to, and are looking forward to having him grace some of our future streams as well.