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How the Sha of Happiness conquered BlizzCon 2013

It stands to reason that if someone known as Angryorc turns out to be Mr. Nice Guy in person, someone named the Sha of Happiness could turn out to be a real stinker. Fortunately for all of us, the Sha of Happiness took BlizzCon 2013 by storm in the sunniest of ways. Her relentless positivity illuminated the dark convention hall in Anaheim, and players discovered to their delight that the character they've embraced on Twitter is as welcoming and personable in the flesh. Whenever the Sha was about, BlizzCon's Meeting Stone and Community Corner positively glowed as welcoming destinations that other players found themselves returning to again and again.

Inspired by Angryorc and other WoW-themed roleplay characters such as @Arakkoa on Twitter, Shappi (as she's popularly known) created the Sha of Happiness character to shine a little light into the WoW community at large. "I've been posting on the EU/NA Warcraft/D3 general forums and more for about five years now, and I've been disheartened at the farewell posts and them stating that it didn't feel like a home for them anymore," she explains. "Whether it be Sanctuary or Azeroth, everyone should have a safe space. I strive to provide something like that for people on Twitter."
Main character Shappi, pandaren windwalker monk
Guild Twisted Empire
Realm Kul Tiras (US-Horde)

WoW Insider: Twitter has fallen utterly in love with the Sha of Happiness -- the love springs right off the screen! What do you think is the key to your popularity?

Shappi: Being genuine. Don't get me wrong, I have my snarky moments, but I sincerely love doing what I do. I am honest about having therapy to assist with my depression. I didn't have an easy go at it with life, with a military father and recently diagnosed with epilepsy. I live truthful to myself and those who love me. That's all that matters to me, after all.

What was it like meeting people face to face at BlizzCon?

Hilarious anecdote: There's a friend of mine that has known me through the forums since I was a teenager and just found out that I was the Sha. He was seriously shocked and just made me laugh so much! And I finally met some of my guildies there, and it was nice putting names to faces.
I did the autograph wall first thing, and as people saw me do the Sha face, they asked if I was the Sha. I nodded yes, then I gave them all hugs. I have anxiety a lot when facing crowds, so when I had enough, I headed over to the Community Corner or hung out with Rygarius at the Meeting Stone. I like to solo conventions, so it was weird of me to have friends who want to come along with me. It was also nice to have Noxychu and her husband as supports when I got emotionally overloaded.

Not to toot my own horn, but being told that I provide hope to people can get really emotional. I cried a lot during BlizzCon because I didn't realize the impact of everything.

Sounds like a lot hitting at once. What was the biggest surprise or amazing thing of your BlizzCon experience?

All the Blizzard people who knew of me. That was amaaaaaaaaziiiiiiing. I had some developers light up when we were introduced and say that they were a big fan of me. It's always astonishing to know that people know of the Sha.

And everyone at BlizzCon wanted to know about the handmade Sha you were carrying around. Give us the scoop!

The Sha 1.0 (based off of Kathryn DiMartino's design) and the Sha of Anger model on Wowhead were the only things she had to base the doll off of. Altearithe amazed me at how diligently she worked. [She] updated me constantly on progression and is a true professional.

Recently, Sha 2.0 (based off of Noxychu's squishable design) arrived via @hestiahdruid in hopes that should our Squishable voting round goes sour, we still have some sort of concrete proof that this cutie exists. We'll be sure to let everyone know when our Squishable round goes out -- let's bring a victory so we all can have this cutie!

I encourage fan art in all mediums, and I'm always interested in highlighting things, as our community is a diverse one with art in all mediums.
Let's peel the mask back just a bit from the woman behind Sha of Happiness. When you're not being so happy, what do you do?

I am a full-time student, currently looking to transfer in 2014 for my bachelor's in linguistics. I also do some arts and crafts stuff, and when I'm not connected to the internet, I like to play with the neighbourhood animals and [am] currently trying to relearn the mandolin. I play by ear, so I fell in love with the instrument when I was pretty young -- The Goo Goo Doll's Iris had just came out.

I'm in my mid-twenties and I've been playing Warcraft since the very beginning -- even when my grasp of the English language wasn't strong. I was born and raised in Japan to a Japanese mother and American father. I'm an AbleGamer -- epilepsy with photo-sensitive triggers. Through my livestream efforts, I was named an AbleGamer Ambassador.

Aside from <Sha of Happiness>, my brother and I are members of <Mattari> (Proudmoore Horde), one of many guilds that represent Japan on World of Warcraft. You can keep an eye out on our progression by #wowjp on Twitter. It can be a closed community, but it's such an amazing one that I'm honoured to be a part of. When I recently went back to Japan to visit my ailing grandfather, I had a chance to meet up with some guildies and eat curry with them, which was quite lovely. They've learned how to adjust and they learned how each spell works. There are things that get lost in translation, like quests and stories, but I try my best to translate them.

Your roots in the WoW community go deep, obviously.

I post on a litany of alts on the Warcraft forums. It's how I've forged some of my friendships, like the customer support forum gang; I fell in love with posting around early Wrath, because at the time, the customer support forums were filled with blues. I love the value that Blizzard places on the customer support side of things, and in a way, a lot of the blues have been role models and they still are.

I still remember bursting into tears at my first BlizzCon, finally being able to meet my "friends," which I'm now proud to say that we have forged a relationship that will last the ages. The blues on the forums really do love what they do, and they really do love the players.

If I've learned something from my time on the forums, it's that keeping an open heart and rational mind will get your point across much better than just trolling, but one has to contemplate what is at the core of "trolling." Is it misunderstood concepts? Is it something completely justified? At the core, it is our passion that ignites us, but [it is] up to us to rein it in to get your point across in a rational way, versus tangents.

You've obviously touched a lot of players with your openness. @Rastailian asked: "Shappi has courageously spoken about all she has gone through. Where does her strength come from?"

I find strength in finding the beacon that says, "Hey, I've been through some rough times," so I've talked about how my depression has affected me in life. It will never completely fade. It's the shadow that haunts me as a subtle reminder, but as long as my friends are there, their light is strong enough to keep the shadow at bay.

I'm not going to sugar-coat it -- when I was diagnosed with epilepsy and put on medication, I was still freshly started as the Sha. It was painful to try to act happy, and after many tears and many restless nights, I finally opened up that I'm fighting this beast. It is the stuff of nightmares, and I would never wish this on anyone.

I was also stuck in the hospital a few times due to reactions with my medication, which thankfully seems to be resolved, as I've celebrated six months without a seizure. I still face monthly testing, but I've learned my triggers, and most importantly -- through some great friends that I've made as the Sha, and through those who always support me (hi @Vaeflare, @Nethaera, @rinnywee, and countless more) -- I figured out that I needed help and feeling like dook always was not normal.

So I got help.
What's ahead for the Sha of Happiness? Are you already planning to be there for the next BlizzCon?

I certainly live close enough to be able to attend! Only matter is actually getting a ticket ...

Things in the more immediate future: a holiday card exchange, hopefully a little gathering if any Blizzard games are released in 2014 ... definitely more streaming for charity (Flex with viewers/donors, Alliance/Horde race, etc.) for the AbleGamers foundation.

An interview with the Sha of Happiness

WoW Insider: Apparently, you've managed to become good buddies with AngryOrc. An angry orc ... happiness ... How does that combination work?

Sha of Happiness: Well, ma'am, since Chen has me ... um, taste-testing the results of some of his latest brews, I can finally understand why adults drink this stuffs! It's yummy! Bu-ut, it's hard to brew up a biiiig batch for me to be able to drink happily so I share a barrel with Angry, then I drink the rest of his stuffs! He tried to teach me pet battling, but I ended up crying until the pets could get healed. I don't think he's a good teacher ...

@AskMrRobot asked: what has sha of happiness done to make @AngryOrc1 happy?

We're currently planning on how to sled from Mount Neverest to the bottom. Wouldn't it be cool to watch!? I'm so excited because I like the feeling of the wind in my face, kinda like flying. I got to possess a druid, and she did flight form for me, and then we flew around and it felt so weird to have feathers and wings instead of my hands and tentacles and legs. HOW DO YOU WALK WITH TWO? It does not make sense!

@Miatog the troll druid asked: If da ot'er sha be born from da old god, den where did ya come from? And are ya a threat ta me?

I don't really remember that much. I hope Daddy loves me, even though for Azeroth to settle down, he had to despawn. I want to say that I miss him, but I don't really remember him.

My brothers also don't like me that much because I'm not a meanie like them. {◕ へ ◕} And I mean, Shadows of them linger still but it's easy-peasy to pancake them! Like ... squish, not make them a cake. Because I like cake and they don't. Because they are also naughty spawnlings.

Fourside_Seven asked: What's it like being the last Sha standing? And how do you plan to reshape Azeroth now that the other five Sha are no longer standing in your way?

I think that with all of my brothers despawning, it's time to help Azeroth heal herself and RECYCLE! Druids and shaman know her cries. I think it's time to teach the others to hear her song and rhythm.

@liopleurodonic asked: How do you maintain your relentless positivity when much of the community is a cesspool of toxicity?

Shappi takes the mic back from the Sha: It is honestly taxing, half of the time. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so people do recognize that and some try to antagonize me for my faults. There have been sleepless nights when I wonder if it's actually worth continuing to play this role.

But, if not you, who?

If not now, when?

I am not a saint by any means. I am a human who strives to learn compassion with every heartbeat, and I've learned to be strong and have faith. I'm learning to seek the tomorrows and I know that despite whatever comes at me, I will be fine. Always.

For more gems of wisdom and delight from the Sha of Happiness, follow her on Twitter.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) or a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to lisa@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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