The hunter marked her prey and crept closer, careful not to alert her enemy to her presence. She had followed the same tactics for hundreds of battles and honed her skills: send in her faithful hunting pet first to attack, let loose her array of arrows and traps, run away if the enemy came too close and—above all—try not to die. Now, it was her first chance to fight alongside friends and allies, who had invited her to battle alongside them, and she was eager to show off her skills. No one had made a move yet, so she decided she would try to kill the enemy first, to be the hero, to show how powerful she was, and how valuable to the group. She sent her pet in, waited a few seconds, and fired her own shots. She expected a quick kill—they had almost always been that way so far, after all—but it did not come. Instead, other nearby enemies noticed the commotion and joined the fray, swarming the allies and sending them scattering and shouting. In the chaos and confusion, she watched her companions die before being overwhelmed herself. As the dust settled, the recriminations began, chastising her, mocking her, calling her names: “huntard” they shouted, then kicked her from their group and far away into a another place in the world, with wounded pride and little confidence, left wondering: what had happened? Why had her companions abandoned her? What had she done wrong?
Hunting for Identity: Community, Performance, and the Curious Case of the Huntard in World of Warcraft