Interview. Montpellier. Adrien Nougaret aka ZeratoR: “I just wanted to comment on video game games”

Interview. Montpellier. Adrien Nougaret aka ZeratoR: “I just wanted to comment on video game games”
Interview. Montpellier. Adrien Nougaret aka ZeratoR: “I just wanted to comment on video game games”

By

Léa Pippinato

Published on May 11, 2024 at 8:32 a.m.
; updated May 11, 2024 at 8:33 a.m.

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First a videographer for a professional video game structure, Zerator became in a few years one of the pioneers of streaming in France thanks to his numerous events that he imagines in the company of the most important streamers in the industry. While he filled the Bercy Palace in 2022 with the ZrT Trackmania Cup, then the Sud de France Arena with the Ascension last October, Adrien Nougaret, known as “ZeratoR”, is relaunching a new edition of the ZLAN, a competition esport where participants compete in a multitude of games, at the Zénith Sud in Montpellier, from this Friday 10 to this Sunday 12 May.


A long weekend of streaming has started. Content broadcast live on the Twitch platform, thanks to the participants who are gathered in the same room. For the occasion, he looks back on his childhood, his memories, his projects. A look back at the journey of this Montpellier resident with multiple hats.

Can you introduce yourself for people who don’t know you?

My name is Adrien. I am known under the pseudonym ZeratoR on the internet. I create video game-related content on Twitch pretty much every day of the year, on events or small daily streams.

Why a pseudonym rather than your real identity?

I started playing with a pseudonym. So it was quite natural that I became a streamer with it. At the time, the profession of influencer did not exist. I’m just a gamer who became someone through streaming. There isn’t this side where I needed to build a brand: everything was very naive at the start. I took my pseudonym because I found it cool, without any professional calculation. As for its origin, it comes from two worlds. I was inspired by Starcraft, where a hero is called Zeratul, then I removed the other two letters to add “gold”. I also read a lot of a comic book called Kid Paddle, in which there were a lot of bad guys who ended in “gold”. I found it fun to mix two worlds that I was a fan of at the age of 10 or 11.

Is living in Montpellier a choice on your part?

I was born there and did all my schooling there. This is where I grew up, and I don’t particularly want to settle anywhere else. When I left my job in England in 2015, I moved back in with my parents for a few months because I didn’t have a place to live. I had two choices: stay nearby, in the South, with my friends and family, or go to Paris to develop my professional circle. I wanted to create a mix between the two, moving forward professionally while keeping my points of attachment. I’m very happy here, and a priori, I’m going to stay there!

Today you are one of the most famous players, hosts and commentators. Was this your ambition from the start?

It’s a little difficult to realize it today, but when I started, the economic model didn’t exist. I initially commentated on games of Starcraft 2 for a year and a half or two. Nobody made a living from streaming, and even more so, never considered that it was possible to make a living from it. I just wanted to comment on video game play. I found it impressive that players managed to rise to incredible levels. It all started this way. I only earned my first euro from streaming after two years. I didn’t do this to make money or make a career out of it. I continued my studies at the same time and it wasn’t until I graduated that I really made the transition.

What was the springboard for making video games your profession?

A company called Millenium contacted me to do full-time streaming and be the head of a web TV. I was employed on a permanent contract in Marseille. I had to move. I cut my teeth there. I was not only a streamer, but also a technical manager because it was almost only me who had this know-how in this company. There was a bit of everything to build, it was super exciting. I had responsibilities even though I had just arrived in the industry. There was still everything to be created in terms of formats, etc. When we start from scratch we grope, and we try to see what is being done elsewhere to draw inspiration from it. The Americans and Koreans were pioneers in this area. Among them, I based myself on the work of Day9. I even remember walking into a music store to ask about sound and they recommended a mixing board that I kept for several years.

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Aren’t there some stressful moments when you’re live streaming?

I have never had stage fright while hosting a live show. I did theater, a little singing when I was younger and several small stages. I have always had a certain ease in expressing myself in public. When I’m at home in front of a screen, there is a barrier between the virtual and the real. I don’t really care how many people are looking at me. I just felt a little pressure during my first big stage at the Grand Rex, in Paris, for the Trackmania Cup in 2016. People really came out physically for me, and I wondered if everything was going to work, if the teams were ready, if the concept was going to appeal to online users. There were lots of hiccups, but it still worked very well!

What are your best memories in this area?

I have lots of memorable memories. I have been doing this job for almost fifteen years. Whether it’s the big scenes, the significant events or the laughter around certain games, my best memories are in a group. It’s difficult to put one above the others, but some were particularly strong, like the first million of ZEvent, the 10 million that followed, the first Avengers, the first Bercy, the first Grand Rex. Here are my top five!

You have 1.6 million subscribers on Twitch, almost as many on Twitter, 850,000 on Facebook and even 160,000 on Facebook. How do you explain this success?

You have to be in the right place at the right time, and sometimes it’s not your choice. Most people who succeed in this industry work hard, but there are also many others who do their best without succeeding. Knowing the good ones, seizing opportunities, getting out of your comfort zone, making professional and social sacrifices, but also having luck, are all fundamental elements. There are many factors and no miracle recipe. We cannot say: “I succeeded because…”

What does a typical day look like for a streamer?

There is no such thing as a typical streamer’s day. I have professional premises with several companies and I often have meetings. I also work on my shows. There are periods that are busier than others. In summer and at the start of the year, the pace is calmer. I often live from 6 p.m. to midnight and I refuse to cut off to go to bed. My evening starts when I leave work, until four or five in the morning. I get up between 11 a.m. and noon. Like almost everyone, I get between six and eight hours of sleep a night: they’re only a little off.

A question that many are asking: will there be a ZEvent in 2024?

I already announced that there would be a ZEvent this year. We are working on it, without being ready to talk about it in terms of dates, associations, places and activities. We took a break for a year, necessary to reflect on the event, on what we wanted it to become or remain. It was really good to take that time. In any case, it will most likely be in Montpellier…

Since 2019, you have also been organizing the ZLAN, a competition on several games less popular than the major esports licenses. Do you consider it important to give them visibility?

The ZLAN is not made to give visibility to the games. The initial goal was to please people who are not particularly strong on one game, but average on several. I tried to include several genres: a strategy game, a shooting game, several racing games, a survival game, or even a speedrun. We are going to develop the complete palette of the ultimate gamer. Every year, we try to repeat this formula, while keeping a few popular games, like Elden Ring, League of Legends, Valorant and PUBG. We try not to include too many franchises that are known to the general public because they have a big place on the scene, but there are also a lot of people who play them, so we like having them.

It would be simplistic to confine yourself only to your activity as a streamer. With Unexpected Studio, your video game development company, do you have any projects in the works?

The first project in preparation is Artisan TD, a game which will be released at the end of June. It’s a tower defense on the Steam platform, which we’ve been working on for several months. There is also an Unexpected game at ZLAN this year: KALLAX. The goal is to build furniture cooperatively, talking to each other a lot while reading a manual. The result is a little chaotic, but that’s intentional. If you hate building furniture, do it in a video game! Unexpected is a very enriching experience because it allows me to know what creating a video game really involves in terms of human, technical and financial aspects. I have a different perspective on the games I’ve tested since then, and on the industry as a whole. I also talk about it better to the spectators.

Is streaming forever?

Yes, but not as a main activity. I will always stream because it’s something I love. I did it before I made money, but also after. I love sharing my experiences with viewers, getting their opinions and ideas. I find this means of distribution very cool. I hope that it will still be technically possible, accessible to everyone. People much older than me are already streaming, so there’s no reason for me to stop just yet!

To follow the ZLan throughout the weekend of May 11 and 12, it’s here.

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