This post may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t beaten Diablo 3 on Normal yet, feel free to skip this post.
My first character in Diablo 3was the Witch Doctor, and I defeated Diablo on Normal with her. The class uses a mixture of crowd control abilities, odd damage spells, pets, and escape tricks in order to confuse and astound foes before killing them off. I’ve found it fairly slow to get through stuff (til I started using the Rain of Toads rune), but the just plain interesting nature of the class’ spells has kept me clinging to it (I’m level 50 at the time of this post).
Let me preface this by saying that I am a woman that passes as white — white people saying to me, all my life, “You look [like a First Nations person]!” doesn’t count for anything, sorry — and, as such, my observations and opinion will not count for much. I do not experience racism. I cannot experience racism — except, maybe, from people that think I’m Not White (because apparently some people look at me and think that?) — and so I do not fully understand and will never understand what a person of colour actually goes through. My concerns regarding the Witch Doctor should not be taken above those of a person of colour. If anyone has any links on the subject, please leave them here in comments and I’ll add them to the entry.
As much as I love the Witch Doctor, I can’t help but feel intensely uncomfortable with the way she’s presented. She is this mysterious, mistrusted, primal woman that the people she initially runs into aren’t quite certain about. Her ways are alien to them. Her stance, even when she’s just standing around and waiting for the action to happen, is almost beast-like. She is tribal. Her appearance checks off a lot of the “stereotypical person of colour” boxes on that checklist, you know the one, and it’s really troubling.
Her attacks include primal yells, she is a major wise-woman, she does not snark, she takes everything in stride. She is one of two (maybe three) very obvious (playable) women of colour in the game (I consider the wizard to be Asian, though I could be wrong), and the huge differences between her and every other character in the game are mind-blowingly obvious.
And yet, and yet, and yet…
I find myself calmed by her calm when we rush into battle against impossible odds; she is certain that we will win, even if we couldn’t possibly make it. I find myself grinning when she counters an ally’s panic with a remark that forces them to shut up and think. Her philosophy makes sense and is a bright spot in an otherwise dark world. The Witch Doctor is patient, disciplined, and the perfect individual to stand up against the darkness that threatens to overtake the world of Sanctuary.
I wish that Blizzard had not othered her so much. I wish that Blizzard had brought her into the world as someone who garnered a hell of a lot of respect (she is from a land that the people of Tristram could never survive in, even), whose magics were feared because of their potency but who was not treated with suspicion at the outset. I wish that Blizzard had not had her idle stance looking so … the way it is now. Everyone else can stand upright, why can’t she?
In short: I love her, I love what the game attempts to do with her, but there are so many uncomfortable bits that I’ve struggled to get her as far as I did. It’s unfortunate. She’s a pretty awesome character, but she could be more awesome if she didn’t have such racist bits and bobs attached to her.