Sumanhi blows out 10 birthday candles

Busy busy busy. Because last Wednesday, we finally got access to our pre-purchased versions of Warlords of Draenor.
Busy with keeping on top of my compulsive disorder collecting followers, new toys, new pets, achievements, … The sleepless nights kind of busy in a very nerdy way.
Anyway, you get my drift.

Things will be getting even more hectic once the ingame celebrations of WoW’s 10th anniversary begin. Which brings me to what I actually want to write about! I started playing at the launch of the very first WoW expansion, and that means:

Sumanhi is turning 10 too – which is fairly old in Night Elf years!

World of Warcraft was released on November 23, 2004 (TBC in 2007, WotLK in 2008, Cata in 2010, MoP in 2012 and WoD in 2014). With over seven million subscribers it is currently the world’s most played “massive multiplayer online role playing game”.  

The Origins

August 2005. Somewhere late at night in the deserts of Silithus. Sumanhi, called Hadinah back then, does a little happy jig to celebrate turning level 60 and embarks on a brand new online journey. This fierce and temperamental young little night elf joins the guild Delusion and meets a lovely priest called Catelin, who introduces her to “raiding” (= joining forces with 20 to 40 people in order to achieve a common goal) – with more patience than an elephant mom walking her infant through a porcelain store. Yes, we’ve all been newbies at some point!Little did I know back then that this would be the start of many raiding adventures, many winter evenings of relentless dying on overtuned bosses and many glorious moments and satisfactions.

The first years

Hadinah grew up to be an independent restoration druid (aka a healer who keeps her comrades alive through battle) in the years that followed, but occasionally morphing into a feral kitten or a fat chicken moonkin to slay more powerful enemies.

I quickly understood that the key to success was solely based on determination and tenacity. I got schooled in dying and I learned a lot of new and innovative ways to quickly die.

  • Being hit in the face by a random giant boss.
  • Being chased by a pack of hungry wolves or a horde of orcs & ugly ogres.
  • Running into laser beams and killer cutter rays.
  • Standing in void zones. Oh man, did I stand void zones.
  • And in fires. And lightning. Also in poison pools, toxic water puddles, air pressures, inferno’s, meteor showers, arcane explosions, whirling saw blades …
  • I also died to not standing in those zones mentioned before when I was actually supposed to.
  • I died from being a simpleton, from panicking and running like a headless chicken.
  • From being away from my keyboard while my group ran off without me.
  • From being distracted by Snuggles rolling on my keyboard.
  • I died to computer issues, to latency, to electricity power cuts
  • Also to enrage mechanics because I played with people who had no godhonest clue.
  • I died from horrible timing on dispelling magical effects.
  • By clicking the wrong things at the perfectly wrong moment and deploying doom on myself and my teammates.
  • I also died from falling off cliffs, from being knocked off my flying dragon and from drowning in water.
  • I died to dragons breathing in my face or being tailwhipped and stunned.
  • But most of all, I died to other people making all of those same mistakes.

Yeah, good times! I found a lot of cool ways to die, actually.I’ve often felt like a clueless general during a field siege but as by some miracle, I always landed back on my feet.

On the personal side of things 

Back in 2005, WoW was the preserve of the stone-aged Fred Flinstone and the testosteron-infested 25y old gamer living with his mum. There were no women on the internet; they were still breaking loose from the kitchen chains. Girls on the internet were for porn and cybers in mIrc, not for games. Back then, people didn’t make light-hearted jokes about it either. Back then, gaming was a very serious man business! A female gamer, just stuck a sock in her piehole and kept quiet, anonymous and male. Over time, I came out of the closet more regularly but I often fell under harder scrutiny simply because I had boobs, and “Girls didn’t perform as well as boys in games”. That isn’t exactly true on the virtual battlefield but back in 2005,  there were not many of these real female gamers yet.

Anecdote: the first time I spoke on ventrilo, I caused my group to fail the fight because they were all baffled by the sound of a girl’s voice in their communication channel. Yes, we were THAT rare of a breed back then 🙂

Unfortunately, the majority of the “game chicks” online back then had an outspoken usage of their sexual assets to get what they want from gullible boy gamers and they created a certain female archetype. Instead of being appreciated for carrying their (healing) team, boys treated them like a holy grail for showing off some cleavage on the forum’s picture thread. Real female gamers, like me, who own the required skills to raid and never depended on their digital bucking skills to achieve success, who can curse/swear like any average male gamer and rage the back legs off a donkey… we have shed blood, sweat and tears to banish the attention-whore stereotype out of the common line of expectation.gamer-girl-reality-expectationIn retrospect, I wish I could have dosed my noble crusade with some virtues but at that time, I felt that victory could only be achieved by immoral verbal violence and if I had to act like an asshole to “be part of the male team”, then it had to be done. I was not always right, but I surely felt strong enough about many things to convince myself that I was. After all, I am blessed with an unholy amount of audacity. I wish that I realized sooner it’s better sometimes to turn your microphone off and bite your fingertips to stop yourself from raging. And that if you don’t want to dangle at the bottom of the meters, you need to be just a tad smarter than the people you play with. The gaming community has evolved since. Blizzard opened up the rpg genre to a much broader and more mature public, making it perfectly possible to function as a female gamer in a male world and being accepted as such. Sexual banter between both genders is cool, and entertaining. Whoring out your femininity and selling your knickers to the highest bidder to fund that latest vanity item, however, is not. Today, opinionated women who speak their mind too passionately incur the same risks that outspoken guys do. No more, no less. And that’s a good spot to be in, if you know what tradition I come from.

The crash, burn and phoenix phase

Several romantic escapades and a couple of years later, in 2008 to be precise, my carefully crafted virtual empire crashed and came to an end. I faced defeat in real life due to naivety and wrongly placed trust. So Hadinah stepped out of WoW for a brief period of time to get that real life train back on track, but awakens from her hibernation period as Sumanhi. A more or less symbolical name change, a metaphor for saying goodbye to the hardcore 7 days /7 gaming world and settling with a much less intensive 3-day gaming schedule.

 

The tribute to my druid

In those 10 years of raiding and clearing all the tiers in WoW, I have assembled a rather impressive collection of memorabilia. Read: my vault is stuffed into every nook and cranny. Sumanhi the Hoarder, would be a fitting title.

And for this post, I have spent a couple of hours screen-shotting my druid’s outfits through the years.. walk with me 🙂

keepingyoualivesince2005

 

The tribute to my beloved guilds

To the guilds I’ve considered my home through the years and all the people in it (and the smaller social little in-between guilds): Thanks for the magic ! And the drama.

 

The tribute to my ingame friends

To all the friends who own at least a gazillion of screenshots on my HDD and who have rooted on my Memory Lane: cheers! Each and every one of you in your own special way, you’ll never be forgotten! I’m sure that somewhere you remember that one stubborn resto druid girl who never listened, who always said the wrong things at the wrong time and did only whatever she wanted. Hi!

You probably also remember all the bestialities we’ve gotten ourselves into… here’s my personal top 20 of memorable events!
Yes, I do have a weak spot for other druids and shamans, you noticed huh 😉

druid-shamans

Want to pop online and say hello to my druid? Google  “Sumanhi wow armory” and find out where I currently play. There will be chocolate and velvet carrot cake, many kegs of dwarven beer and bear hugs. Happy Birthday, Sumanhi !

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