Archivist Spotlight: Diablo 3's April Fool's Archivist
Updated: Aug 20
This isn't an April Fool's joke but it is about an April Fool's joke from Blizzard Entertainment back in 2009. Yes, the fine people in charge of Diablo 3 decided to add a joke class for the LOLs and that joke class was The Archivist.
If you look on the Diablo wiki, The Archivist is described in the following way:
The Archivist is the newest class to be introduced to Diablo 3. The Archivist is a ferocious loremaster and librarian, Having unlimited knowledge of books, and all the secrets withing them, Constantly seeking to prove once and for all that the Pen is mightier than the sword. Hailing from the Darkened Studies of Westmarch, this frail man is a force to be reckoned with.
Okay, firstly, Archivist and Librarian are not synonymous terms, people. Secondly, that they really felt the need to describe the Archivist as basically a weak nerd is very condescending. Buff nerds exist!
The character introduction, however, is a much more thrilling and positive description of the Archivist class in action even if it only amounts to some dude forcing a magical tome to reveal its secrets, but it's an exciting, if brief, concept that I'd be on board with if it had been real. I especially love the other archivists that potentially exist in the world.
I have the utmost respect for the archivists, these warriors of myth and legend. We know their names: Alimet Two Quills, master of illumination with both left and right hand; Morienne the Scrivener, a midwife whose poetry stole the hearts of kings and brought tyrants to tears; and Salazar Cid, the Master Transcriber of Gea Kul, whose bombastic penmanship is known in all the lands of the Twin Seas and beyond. But these are only a chosen few. The members of their honored fraternity are many, and their numbers grow every day.
Hey, Blizzard! Hey, over here, I would actually play a game with these characters if you made it. You can make up all the joke history and backstory you like, but the characters could be genuinely fun and interesting. Just saying. But, when you get to the Skills list you can see the condescension creeping back in.
Book Vision: Makes tome on screen glow a golden color. Just because.
Lorenado: A Tornado of books ripple out from the Archivist, ripping apart anything it strikes.
Quest Bolt: Fires a golden exclamation mark projectile. Enemies hit by the Quest Bolt are frozen with the "!" remaining over their heads.
Shush: The Archivist's most powerful spell, this one silences and destroys every monster on the screen. Sadly, it also causes the Archivist to explode an instant later.
So, yeah, they're going for broke on making the Archivist class an overpowered Librarian. Apparently, the Archivist class, originally the Lorekeeper, was conceived as a Deckard Cain class of frail old men who identify items for the player. The joke being that no one was asking to play as the elderly gentleman giving you vital information, so here's a class devoted entirely to that concept. Funny!
On the one hand, I can see how it was probably fun for the people at Blizzard to make something that fans of the game would find hilarious, in theory. I obviously know nothing about Diablo or the nuance of playing the game and I haven't really found anything that indicates what the reaction was to the joke when it was originally launched. So, maybe it went over well and they all had a good laugh. End credits.
On the other hand, it's really aggravating to see your profession used as a joke, especially when it's clear that the people writing it are still conflating archives with libraries and the punchline is just, "Ha ha! NERD!!" Why is an archivist more of a joke class than a barbarian or a wizard? It's an entire game about magic and hitting things real good. You'd have a better chance landing a joke if the character class was a Cheesemonger...although I would still want to play as that class.
My point is when I found this as I was putting my list of potential articles together, I didn't expect to be so disappointed in what amounts to brushing off the thing I do for a living as some kind of fantasy throwaway joke. And you can say I'm reading too much into a thing that happened over a decade ago, but that's kind of the point of this website. How archives and archivists are presented to those who don't know anything about the profession affects future reactions and references. If we were just a joke to the people making Diablo 3 back in 2009, then how do the people who were part of the joke or were around when the joke was launched look at archives and archivists now?
The effect might be small, maybe nonexistent to some, but I promise you it's there. And I think that's something worth thinking about on this Day of Fools 2021.