This blog is part of my contribution to the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Those who are participating can write about any topic they want to – so long as it fits with the letter of the day. I have decided to use this Challenge as a good reason to get started writing about Diablo III (and the “universe” it exists in).
C is for Consent. Sanctuary is a dangerous place. As I’ve played through Diablo III, it dawned on me that not everyone in Sanctuary has given their consent about what ended up happening to them. Only a select few have the option to decide whether or not they want to give consent to be involved in a particular situation. For the most part, though, the people who live on Sanctuary are powerless to prevent some really terrible things from happening to their bodies. To me, this adds even more horror to an already tragic situation.
What is consent? It is an enthusiastic “YES” given by a person who is truly able to give it. To give consent, it means that a person must be able to understand what he or she is agreeing to. It means that the person must not be forced or coerced into doing something that he or she doesn’t really want to do.
“In real life”, we typically think about consent in the context of sex. “No” means the person does not want to have sex with you at this time. He or she does not give their consent. On Sanctuary, consent isn’t usually connected to sex. However, it absolutely is connected to whether or not a person wants to have something happen to their body.
Take, for example, the zombies. They are the first monster that you fight when you begin playing Diablo III. Players kill some zombies on their way to New Tristram, on their way out of New Tristram, and in a bunch of other places as they travel across Sanctuary. The majority of those zombies used to be people.
I’m not quite sure if the zombies that are vomited up by the Wretched Mother monsters used to be people, or if they actually began their existence as zombies. I think the Wretched Mothers have it worse off than the zombies they spawn, though. Imagine experiencing an undead existence where you continuously vomit up fully grown zombies – and you cannot stop. That’s got to be even more miserable than the worst case of the flu you have ever had!
Nobody wants to become a zombie. Things are pretty bleak in Sanctuary, but even so, no one wakes up one morning and realizes that their greatest dream in life is to become the walking dead. The people in New Tristram have seen their friends and family members turn into zombies – and it’s not pretty. Obviously, doing so requires a person to die, and then “return” as a walking corpse. Most of the non-player characters (NPCs) who turn into zombies scream while it is happening. It must be incredibly painful.
Those that have been turned into zombies do not give their consent. It appears that those who turn into zombies either were bitten by a zombie or somehow contracted the… virus? disease? … while caring for a sick friend or family member (who later turned into a zombie). They may not have realized the risk they were taking, especially when the zombie plague first began. How would you differentiate between “I have caught the flu bug that is going around” and “I am about to turn into the undead”?
The zombies are just one example of things that happen to people in Sanctuary without their consent. There are a whole lot of people who get tortured (either in Leoric’s giant “torture chamber” or by the zealots that are in various parts of the game). Absolutely no one consents to being tortured!
On the other hand, there are some aspects of the game where consent, or lack thereof, is respected. Pick any class and play a female character. Take Lyndon, the Scoundrel, along with you as your Follower. No matter which class you select, Lyndon will hit on your female character. She always turns him down, and he respects her decision. He stops hitting on her (well, for a while). He never tries to force himself upon her. Here is one example:
Lyndon: “So, is an amazing woman such as yourself and a fellow like me, ever going to be more than friends?”
Female Player Character: “No.”
Lyndon: “You’re missing out….”
Female Player Character: “No, I’m not.”
Lyndon: “I see….” (sounding disappointed)
It is the player characters that have the most ability to give consent. Each of them has a pretty good idea what they are about to get involved in. They all have a specific motivation that is driving them to find the Fallen Star (and continue through the story line). By the time they have reached the outskirts of New Tristram, they have become strong, skilled, and well prepared to take on the upcoming challenges. They are able to give their consent to participation in what lies ahead.
Tyrael is able to express his lack of consent – and have his decision listened to. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the other angels approved of his decision to become mortal. Tyrael knew exactly what he was giving up by making that choice. He might not have fully understood what it felt like to be mortal, but he had at least been around mortals for a while. Once, he consented to being part of the Angiris Council. Later, he revoked that consent, left, and stopped begin an angel entirely. More on Tyael in an upcoming blog!