For Canadian-based gamer Zach Laner, also known by his username – Zlaner – gaming is a way of life. He grew up playing games and would play with his father and brothers whenever he had a chance until this passion finally led him to a career in 2019. Coming from a musical background, his stage presence was evident when he first started on the Facebook gaming platform. and in his own words: “The rest is history.”
Zlaner’s ability to seamlessly connect his talents to the gaming world demonstrates the many different ways gaming can intersect with other hobbies and interests. Due to its success, it has even taken on other related projects such as: B. designing his own controllers and merch. He discusses these convergences with Hypebeast, along with tips for beginner streamers and most importantly, the five things he can’t live without.
hypebeast: tell me who you are
Zlaner: My name is Zach or Zlaner; I’ve been playing since I was a child. I also did a lot of music growing up, from the ages of 13 to 19. I started playing gigs in bars when I was 14, festivals and college parties and stuff like that. I think a lot of that helped me with stage presence and just standing in front of crowds and audiences. In the background of all this I was always playing – probably a lot more than just making music. So it makes a lot of sense that my life took this path because I knew it was always something I wanted to be a part of. So I took a bit of that experience and started doing live streaming about four years ago. I started playing Fortnite, switched to War Zone and met a lot of cool people during the process.
Tell me a bit about your music career.
Z: Throughout high school I wrote, performed, and acted extensively. Just before I started streaming, I was also filming a show called The Launch. It was a singing competition style show, but a bit different from The Voice and similar shows. With The Launch you can do a little bit of studio work, you work on a song and you perform it at the end. We finished second and overall it was a great experience. I definitely don’t write and perform as much as I used to, but it’s still a big part of my life for sure.
How did this background prepare you for streaming?
Z: Definitely feeling comfortable on the mic and in front of an audience, even if it’s different in the sense that the crowd is obviously not right in front of me. It still translates well.
How does gaming fit into your current lifestyle? I’m sure you still have music and other hobbies, so how do you fit these into your gaming routine?
Z: Gaming and building my brand are definitely the main parts of my life right now and my main focus in terms of career. Music and other hobbies have taken a back seat, which is fine with me. I really like doing that. No question. Growing up as a kid – I’ll put it that way, if I hadn’t made it a career it would have been a very bad addiction. I would probably waste a lot of time and not get too much stuff done. Luckily I was able to make something out of it, because nowadays I think it’s crazy that you can even make something like this a job.
What do you do every day outside of the game?
Z: To be honest, I don’t do that much outside of gaming. I have two areas of focus. I play video games all day and have two dogs and a girlfriend. When I’m not playing video games, I’m spending time with my family. It basically was because I put so much time into gaming and building my business.
Sounds like balance to me. So how did you start your gaming journey?
Z: I started my gaming journey when I was about five years old. My dad took care of me and my brother – and I think he has it more for himself since he was a big gamer – but he got an Xbox back when it was just bumpy and huge. And Halo was the game back then. He got Halo Two with the new Xbox. But this passion started a little later. I played a little bit of Halo Two, played a few video games when I was a kid, but then when Halo Three came out, it took over. After that I switched to Call of Duty and have been playing ever since. There must have been a lot of hours put into it.
Can you tell us about the Facebook gaming community and what it means to you?
Z: Facebook was the craziest thing that happened to me in my career. I started there because of a friend named Dimes who I still look up to to this day. He did a lot for me and put me in the spotlight a lot back then. We started playing together and he told me the good word over facebook and streaming over there. So I immediately created a page and started building my fan base. I mean, the Facebook gaming community, what it means to me, is everything. To all of my fan base and everything I do – I’m forever grateful. I have the coolest fans ever. They try very hard and support me in everything I do.
What would you tell people about the Facebook gaming platform if they don’t know it themselves?
Z: It’s a great platform to get started. They offer so many different avenues for smaller creators to actually make a career out of it. Because what a lot of people don’t know is that when you start out, it’s really only the top percent who can really have a career. The cool thing about Facebook is that they have so many different promotional items for new streamers to actually make it and get tips from different fans. An example of this is sometimes they have things like free stars which is the currency on facebook gaming to be able to tip your favorite streamers and they just pass that on and allow people to tip their favorite streamers , which is really cool.
What do you like best about the platform?
Z: For people trying to get started playing and getting into the platform, something I personally love about it was that there was still a lot of space to take up. Many of the other platforms are already very saturated. There are so many different creators in this vast ocean. That was one thing I saw as an advantage. I was like, ‘Hey, Facebook is trying to build its thing and they’re just getting started. I’m trying to do my thing and I’m just getting started. Maybe we can grow together.”
What do you personally love about Facebook Gaming?
Z: I love the connection I was able to make. With all my fans of course, but also with the connections I’ve been able to make with other creators on the platform. I have so many amazing friends and people I’ve met while streaming on the platform over the past few years. This is priceless for me. Facebook Gaming is also a more personable platform as the usernames are also people’s real names.
Since the Facebook gaming platform is all-inclusive, how has it made connecting easier?
Z: You have everything in one place. It’s a one stop shop in the sense that you don’t have to outsource your schedules or anything to other social media platforms. You can post directly to your Page, you can go live directly from your Page, and you can upload stories, events, fundraisers, and charity streams. There’s just an endless amount of things you can do, all built right into and integrated with Facebook.
Can you tell us something about your gaming setup?
Z: Yes, in any case. I love the fact that I’m very fortunate to be able to work from home. I just got a nice desk. When I first started streaming, I started with a very simple setup. I always try to tell people when it comes to streaming and content creation that you really don’t have to do much when you start. I started with a single PC, a single monitor, and I was reading the chat from my phone, trying to interact with everyone that way. Now I have a couple of monitors. It looks like a slightly crazier setup now, but I’ve incorporated these things over time. I’ve reinvested much of the support I got back into updating this setup. So now my space has become a bit more of a command center, but it’s nice.
What is your favorite part of your setup?
Z: I like my PCs. I have some pretty killer PCs. I think they are pretty powerful. They’ll get the job done for sure. I run a dual pc setup so all my gaming is done on one pc and all streaming is done on the other.
I know a lot of gamers take their chair really seriously.
Z: Definitely. I must have looked through a few gaming chairs. The one I have now is very beautiful. It’s a Herman Miller chair, one of those ergonomic seats. I’ve tried many different chairs over the years and I love this one.
So what are the five things you can’t live without?
Z: The first of five items I can’t live without is this controller. I use the mouse keyboard for some games, but this particular controller is what I use every day. I use it all the time. I definitely can’t live without them because I can’t play without them. It’s a Scuf gaming controller. I just recently released my own with my own logo and branding. The cool thing about Scuf controllers is that you can use those bumpers on the back and give you extra control.
My second item is my glasses. I literally can’t see if I’m not wearing these, so pretty important. The third item I definitely can’t live without is my four liter jug of water. I always have one of these with me when I stream. My main community would know me for having this. I’ll just pick that thing up and, no glass needed, just chug all day. I try to stay hydrated as much as possible. The fourth item I can’t live without is peanut butter. I’m a peanut butter addict. I don’t think there are too many people out there eating it as often as I do. I have an infinite number of jars in my pantry right now. And my last item is definitely my cell phone. I can not live without her. I check email, I check social media. I’m always on my phone.