Interview: Adding Shieldmaidens To War Of The Vikings

By Paul Dean on May 19th, 2014 at 7:00 pm.

War of the Vikings, Paradox Interactive’s sequel to the gritty and gruesome War of the Roses, is about to receive its first expansion, a relatively modest addition that adds one new class: the Shieldmaiden. Executive producer Gordon Van Dyke, a veteran of multiplayer development who can trace his history back to some of the early Battlefield games, says it’s an opportunity to not only shake up the way the game is played and the patterns that players are falling into, but that it might also be a chance to challenge a few assumptions about gender.

At Paradox’s annual convention in January, Van Dyke spoke to me about his plans to introduce women warriors to the game and how it was important to him that they be dressed in realistic, practical gear rather than sporting the tired trope of stylised “boob armour,” the sort of curvy breastplates and chainmail bikinis that have plagued video games for decades. He explained how this expansion is his chance to make good on his ambition, why there should be women warriors in his game and how he relishes a chance to challenge some of gaming’s sexist conventions.

RPS: You’ve got this expansion coming out, featuring the new Shieldmaiden class. First of all, what does the class add to the game?

Gordon Van Dyke: Yes, we have, and it’s exciting. The new class brings something that’s different to our existing ones. Those existing classes, they demonstrate the core mechanics of the game and they needed to be somewhat similar, but now we can add new layers to combat and that’s what the Shieldmaiden is going to do.

It’s a class that can wield a spear and shield combo, the only class that can do that, and it really changes the combat. Right now, we’ve noticed a lot of players are going with a Champion, two-handed axe combo. The main reason is that class can take a little more damage and is more favourable to error. You can take a couple of hits and make a few mistakes. If you pull off a charged strike, you can easily take down your opponent in one or two hits, while it might typically take them around three.

What this class does is really shake things up for those players. The Shieldmaiden has a bigger shield, for added protection against axes, and it’s much stronger so you can’t shatter it in the same way you can smaller ones. With the spear, you can do some really precise strikes and catch those two-handed axe guys off-guard when they’re still charging up. The spear’s just for hand-to-hand combat, but you could attach the Blind Fury perk so that you can throw it.

RPS: So this is a class that you’ve made in direct response to how you’ve seen the game evolving? To what and how players are choosing to play?

Gordon Van Dyke: Exactly. And while it will be paid DLC if you want to customise your Shieldmaiden, everyone will get the default Shieldmaiden. That’ll give them the Shieldmaiden class with a sword, shield, javelin and dodge/block perk.

There’s still a lot of new things you can do without customising. For example, when you’re bandaging a teammate, the Shieldmaiden puts her shield up so that you can revive them in cover and protect yourself from archers.

RPS: When you were talking about the idea of a Shiledmaiden, back at the Paradox Convention, you sounded excited about the idea of featuring women in the game. It was one of the first things you mentioned in your presentation.

Gordon Van Dyke: Yes, I am excited, and it’s because I like to stir up a little bit of trouble! That’s a part of my personality. People still seem to be really adamant about not accepting that there were female warriors, that there were these women that participated in combat. Regularly.

During development, I did some research and I went into it with an open mind. I don’t really have those kind of stereotypes forced into me, where I can’t accept that something is different to what I’ve been told or taught, and I sat down with the archaeologist [Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, PhD --Archaeology Ed] that was in charge of the biggest Viking find, in a place near Stockholm called Birka. She very strongly believed that it was more likely than we currently think.

The key thing about Norse culture was it allowed women to choose their path when they came of age. They didn’t have to go straight into marriage, they weren’t forcing those roles in society, those gender roles that you’d see in a patriarchal society.

RPS: So while you’ve got detractors claiming this isn’t realistic, there’s evidence that women fought? And that when Vikings invaded and settled abroad, they came as both men and women together, bringing some of their livestock too?

Gordon Van Dyke: People think that the Vikings were only raiders, but that’s not actually what happened. It was more that they were trying to settle. That was a scary thing for those who already lived there, especially the Saxons, because that was a threat to them, just like in modern society where you have different cultures mixing. People are afraid of a new culture because they don’t understand it and it’s scary to those in control because it can potentially remove their power.

Yes, they would bring some of their livestock, though England was very rich with game and had great soil for crops, so those Vikings didn’t have to bring too much, but they brought all sorts people over, men and women.

RPS: You’re trying to portray these women as being practically dressed for combat and that shouldn’t be a big deal, yet we’ve got a long history in games of very stylised and rather silly armour. Where do you think the whole “boob armour” tradition has come from?

Gordon Van Dyke: Well, it comes from society. Sex sells, whether we like it or not. Sexualising something, for a man or a woman, adds appeal. I don’t think think it just applies to women; you see guys who want to be a good-looking, fit action hero when they’re playing, but of course it’s less tasteful when you have men who have been dominating an industry and who are able to portray what they want.

If you look at female characters in a lot of other video games, they’re often made to stand out. What’s the first way developers do it? They naturally go towards sexualising them, toward the boob armour thing. People see this fantasy armour with oversized cleavage coming out of it and, for some people, that’s a draw. But I think there’s as many players, or more, who aren’t drawn to that sort of thing.

I don’t know if it has like an intentional, evil reasoning behind it, but people go with what they like. If you look at the Metal Gear series, for example, I don’t think Hideo Kojima is a misogynistic pig. I’ve met him and I’d be shocked if that was the case. But he does come from a different culture and he likes attractiveness from things. He likes his male characters to be extremely sexy and sexual, wearing tight clothes and being muscular and well-endowed. He sexualises everyone, not just women, though of course you had the whole thing around that new character Quiet being “good for cosplay.”

I think in his universe, in the lore that he created around that, it kinda works as they’re all wearing things that aren’t practical for men or women, but I want to work on things that are more practical, more steeped in reality. We have this opportunity to take misconceptions about the Norse culture and try and present our view on it.

[Archaeologists] are re-examining bones from grave sites that they assumed were men because they had this long-standing belief that women didn’t fight in combat, a belief that came from 1,500 years of a patriarchal society dominated by Christianity. It’s hard to break out of that mindset. They looked at graves and said “Oh, this was a guy, cause he’s buried with a sword and a shield.” They never examined the bones to really know if that was the case, but they’ve now gone back and re-examined some of them and found women in these graves. I think we’ll see more and more of that.

We also went with the kind of idea that you see in Game of Thrones, where you have Yara and Ygritte, these really strong female characters like Brienne of Tarth. She’s massive, she’s strong, and I highly doubt that physiques of men and women today are identical to what they were 1,500 or 1,700 years ago. We’ve changed, we’ve become softer. All people were strong back then. You had to be, to survive.

RPS: Have you had criticism for this from players, or any resistance to what you’re doing?

Gordon Van Dyke: Oh yeah, absolutely. If you want things to change and if you want to challenge what people consider the norm, you’re going to get resistance. And if you want to take on a challenge, you have to be prepared for that. You need to stick with what you’ve learned and what you believe in. This is what we believe, this is [the Norse culture] we want to reflect and we think it’s an accurate reflection of that period in time.

Some people will never want to accept it, but there’s people who still want to think that the world is flat, that we didn’t go to the moon. There’s all sorts of ideas that people don’t want to accept or believe.

RPS: Are you worried about player behaviour or player response to the new class? Do you anticipate any problems in-game?

Gordon Van Dyke: I haven’t really given it that much thought because, when you get into the game, the new class is just as aggressive and just as deadly. We asked ourselves, if there was a woman fighting at this time, how would she equip herself to be successful in battle? We just focused on that and wanted to make sure that was the key factor. It’s the same goal we had with our other characters.

Yeah, I think some players might be ready to be anti-Shieldmaiden. After a few rounds, after they see how much the class adds to the game, if they care more about gameplay and about having a good time, that’ll override any of those perceptions. This is a class that kicks ass.

RPS: You’ve previously mentioned that becoming the father of a daughter might have influenced how you think about the treatment and representation of women, as well as our expectations of them. Do you think that’s made a difference?

Gordon Van Dyke: Absolutely. I think everything in your life influences you to some degree, but when I think more about it, I agree. I look at her, when I watch her behaviour and I see how she does things.

She really likes Batman, so I gave her this mint condition Batman action figure that I’d saved, that I’d had in the box since like 2000 or maybe 1998. She saw it and wanted it, so I just gave it to her. I was like, “Y’know what? I’ll never sell this, I’ll never do anything with it.” It’s silly for me to have it and she wants to play with it, she wants to play with Batman and so she gets to play with Batman! I buy her a lot of Star Wars stuff, like Stormtrooper pyjamas, and she loves those things. I want to give her fair choices. I think that [mentality] starts to get reflected in how you view other things, including making games.

And there’s no reason not to. Even if we weren’t trying to be historically accurate, I think it’s silly to hold on to some of those old-fashioned ideas. In modern military games you have players complaining that women don’t fight on the front lines. Well, that’s really only in the US military, which is still a patriarchal system, still overly controlled by those old Christian views of things. If you look at many other armies, like the Israeli army, they have women in the front lines. I think it’s ridiculous when people say that a particular gender can’t do something. It’s no different to saying that one ethnicity can’t do something. It’s that same dolty kind of mentality.

It’s demoralising at times, but it’s also fun to see it as a challenge, to ask how we can change that, and I think featuring women warriors in a way where they aren’t sexualised is one way. Like, I think the new take on Lara Croft was better. You still see some glimmers of that old mentality, like the shot in the beginning where she’s hanging from the cliff and you’re looking down her shirt, getting a nice little boob shot there. Did they have to do that shot? Probably not. Could they have changed the clothes a bit?

I put more clothing on my Lara and I thought she looked pretty kick ass. With the custom clothing, I tried to make her look more like a bad ass than a cute girl who happened to survive a shipwreck that killed all those trained military men.

RPS: Does being at Paradox help? You’re in Sweden, a country that’s considered more progressive, working at a place where a lot of both men and women work together on games.

Gordon Van Dyke: I think it helps. You don’t have a mob mindset, or one that’s afraid to take this sort of thing on. You have peers and co-workers around you that support you going against the grain. I think there’s a lot of other people thinking this way now, so it’s not just us, but I do like that we’re one of those developer pushing this, saying “Hey, there are other options.”

I’m not somebody to tell other people what to do. If other people like their boob armour, and that’s what they think is best for the game, then they’re free to do whatever it is that they want. But when I have a choice, that’s not something that I want to do. I hope that our audience, the people who buy our games, also feel the same and support our point of view.

RPS: Thank you very much.

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95 Comments »

  1. MrRoivas says:

    BUT NO GENDER STUFF GAMING STUFF WHITE KNIGHTING ARGLE BLARGLE

    • RedViv says:

      MISANDRY EVERYWHERE, RUIN, DESPAIR, CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER, MASS HYSTERIA

      • Amun says:

        BOOB ARMOR IS NOT OKAY, BUT IMPRACTICAL HELMETS ARE FINE!!!

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          YOU ARE AN IMPRACTICAL HELMET. WE MUST FIGHT ON THE INTERNET.

          • Squirly says:

            HOW INSENSITIVE! MY MOTHER WAS KILLED BY AN IMPRACTICAL HELMET!

        • CMaster says:

          Haivng been to a few museums, I can tell you that impractical helmets are an archaelogoical fact.

          Whether people wore them to combat or not, couldn’t say, but lots of “battle gear” is pretty ridiculous.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      IT IS DANGEROUS AND WRONG

    • Gap Gen says:

      WHER ME TITS N FREE SPEECH

    • Bluerps says:

      DON’T CENSOR ME!

    • Arglebargle says:

      Someone called?

      I HATES THE EVIL HORNED HELMETS, BAD BOOB PLATES, AND EVERPRESENT MISUSE OF THE WINCHESTER 94…OOOH, OOPS, wrong rant addition.

    • Wixard says:

      slargle mlargle women must wear burkhas in games blargle dargle.

    • steviebops says:

      SNARL PRIVILEGE, GRR HETERO-NORMATIVE!

    • SuicideKing says:

      THE RPS AGENDA IS!

  2. phuzz says:

    Dear gaming industry, more kickass women in games please.

  3. RedViv says:

    Again my nice book recommendation on the re-examination of Anglo-Saxon and Norse cultures: Peace-Weavers and Shield Maidens. Scholarly and precise.
    Really not much else to say. Not portraying the rough five percent deviation from traditional roles, pretty well-founded in newest explorations of burial sites, isn’t valid any longer.

    May trilby hats be eaten today, and MEN’S TEARS give us power.

    • Amun says:

      But my tears are symbols of my strong and powerful strengthyness! How dare you try to use them for your own goals!

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      That’s not how you spell monsters.

    • Ace Rimmer says:

      NOT ALL MEN!

      Also, Paradox’ binary conception of gender is clearly the real ahistorical villain here: https://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/feminist_formations/v026/26.1.self.pdf

      • AngelTear says:

        Wow, judging from the abstract, that actually looks like a very interesting read.

      • Terragot says:

        I desperately want to read this article, but I can’t figure out how.

        • AngelTear says:

          You either have to be a member of an educational institution that has a “contract” with them, so you login with your university (or similar) credentials and you have access to most if not all articles on the site

          or

          you pay a subscription as a private to have access to the essays.

          There are a few websites like Muse, for instance http://www.jstor.org/, working on the same subscription model, and they’re filled with interesting essays, mostly taken from specialist journals that don’t normally see much circulation, and you can find something about all kinds of academic stuff really. If you’re going to actually make use of them and regularly read essays, the subscription is more than worth it.

        • nearly says:

          Send me an email at yahoo (popeofpoetry) and I may have a pdf

      • RedViv says:

        That does sound really interesting. Wonder how to get a closer look. The third-gendered aspect is only tangentially referred to in how the Norse saw both men and women not following their traditional roles in that book I mentioned.

        Of course you bring up something so interesting. What a guy!

      • cpt_freakout says:

        You had to do that, didn’t you? Now you must provide us with a downloadable pdf of that article in the name of BERSERKRY

        • Ace Rimmer says:

          I’d happily do so, but I expect the lords of the manor wouldn’t be too pleased if we went about sharing copyrighted material in the comments dungeon of Castle Shotgun, sorry. </cautious viking>

    • TWChristine says:

      Quite interested in this, and will have to remember to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation! :)

  4. Stellar Duck says:

    This Gordon Van Dyke chap seems like an extraordinarily pleasant fellow!

    I really enjoyed reading this interview. The game looks interesting as well, though I bounced hard off of War of the Roses so I may caution my enthusiasm a bit.

    Still, what a nice chap!

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      yeah, he’s clearly got his head on straight. His respect for other people’s freedom to choose what they want it a most appropriate attitude in my opinion.

  5. Raitanator says:

    Thank you for this interview. Just amazing!

    You guys should also check out Kurdish women warriors. They often have fled patriarchal abuse, and found new meaning to life, well, from war. Anyway, definitely recommend to check it.

  6. nitehawk says:

    Besides, I think practical armor can be quite sexy.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      May not be the most PC reaction to this lovely interview, but I thoroughly agree.

  7. MrRoivas says:

    On a more serious note, how many cute puppies do I have to sacrifice to Odin to have game makers realize that there are loads of people like me who hate overly sexualized armor for women that’s fucking EVERYWHERE in games.

    • Keyrock says:

      It depends on the breed. I won’t go through the complete list, but here are a few examples:

      Beagles – 237
      Yorkshire Terriers – 96
      Dachshunds – 143

    • RedViv says:

      The issue that never ceases to baffle me is the lack of self-reflection in this aspect. It’s not only that the people directing others, so that armour may be designed that way, are rubbish at imagining how it feels if half of humanity is shown that this is what you want to see of them, but also that it does not seem to dawn upon them that they are committing the most grave of creative sins: Being UTTERLY AND STUPENDOUSLY AND SOUL-AND-SENSE-NUMBINGLY BORING.

  8. Keyrock says:

    Alright, alright, I’ll accept the female warrior with the practical armor *sigh*, so long as she’ll still do the laundry and make me a sandwich.

    /hides

  9. Leb says:

    Good on them! Can’t really stomach the game-play of this or it’s predecessor, but good on them nonetheless.

  10. The Random One says:

    Soooooooo what is the game like? Because the impression I’d had so far is that it is like War of the Roses but worse, and WotR is of course like Chivalry but third-person and also worse. Am I wrong, is the game actually cool?

    • Horg says:

      No idea, but this raises a point that needs addressing. We have heard quite a lot about the development of WotV, and recently the addition of female warriors post launch, but no one at RPS has actually bothered to WIT the damn game yet. If they are going to give WotV this much coverage it would make sense to let us know weather or not it’s any good. WIT, please!

    • steviebops says:

      Honestly, it’s bizarre. It;s like WotR, with less content and variation.
      No mounted combat.
      No crossbows.
      Less weapon and armour choices.
      Very grind-oriented.

      It should have been obvious when they chose their era, that the game would have to step back.

      Trendy Viking hipsters!

    • Zulupox says:

      This is an awesome in depth video review of the game:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb1K6x57H5k
      They have really nailed it. I mean understood the concepts of the game fully.

  11. Prolar Bear says:

    Nice interview! Haven’t played the game but those female characters look downright angry, and their armor set is fantastic to boot. Good work.

  12. Eightball says:

    Wait, they made shieldmaidens a separate class? Isn’t that still super sexist? Shouldn’t they be all the same classes as male vikings?

    • Ace Rimmer says:

      They’ve apparently added female skins (faces, at least) for all classes as well as the new shieldmaiden class.

    • zarasque says:

      You mean, like shield maidens shouldn’t have a different gameplay because they fight like a skirmisher or like a berzerker ?

      Don’t you think the name by itself may point in the direction that they are quite skilled in the use of a shield, and since they’re is not yet any shield focus classes, it is a good idea to make a Shield Maiden classes ?

      Having a female dedicated classes (i’m talking about female character not player) doesn’t mean female can’t play another role, it means they can have their own specifics instead of only being a clone of the others character.

      I am a firm believer than woman can do anything as good as any man. But i still know than man are most of the time a bit stronger than woman. It would be dumb to ignore that fact, and the fact that it probably has affected the way most of womens have learned to fight. You don’t fight the same way against an opponent bigger and stronger, of against an opponent smallest or quickest and such.

      • Eightball says:

        But it’s not equality unless all genders can do everything all the other genders can do.

        • AngelTear says:

          LevelHeaded, is that you?

        • toxic avenger says:

          There is no such thing as equality, in the way you speak of it. When feminists talk about equality, they mean equality of opportunity, equality of treatment, not literally making men and women equal. The phrase: “All men are created equal” is a metaphor. Of course all men are not created equal. It’s the opportunity that should be created equal: women should be allowed to be any profession they like, if its physically feasible, we as a society should mandate handicap provisions such as ramps so that people in wheel chairs are more on an equal opportunity or footing as everyone else, etc. Total equality is absolutely not possible. Even the most “progressive” or “hard-liner” feminists, like French feminist philosophy from the early to mid 1970s, wouldn’t argue that.

          • zarasque says:

            Toxic avenger got exactly what i was trying to say, so i will let it to that

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I’m more offended by the fact that they made the female clothing options paid DLC.

      • Ace Rimmer says:

        And while it will be paid DLC if you want to customise your Shieldmaiden, everyone will get the default Shieldmaiden.

      • Tayh says:

        You didn’t read the interview, did you?
        “Gordon Van Dyke: Exactly. And while it will be paid DLC if you want to customise your Shieldmaiden, everyone will get the default Shieldmaiden.”

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          That’s what I was referring to, I should have been more precise. I hate that silly paid customization shit, especially when Paradox does it.

          Edited original post to reflect that, and to make your response look slightly silly.

    • Shieldmaiden says:

      I’m happily playing my champion with a female head. Not that you can tell under the full-face helm, but I know.

  13. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    Is there a favoured hangout for RPS vikings? I fancy cleaving with my axe.

    • tormos says:

      Various bits of England (until 1066) and northern France, I think

      • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        *Sound of TARDIS vanishing*

      • CherryPhosphate says:

        Actually after 1066 as well. AFAIK the Normans were originally Vikings who first settled in northern France … then decided they preferred England.

        • Twitchity says:

          The Vikings ended up all sorts of places — they founded Dublin (and made it a slave market); took over Sicily and ruled it as a wealthy Euro-Arab-Jewish trading power; served as the Imperial bodyguards to the Byzantine emperors and empresses; turned themselves into English kings and French dukes; founded the Kievan Rus’ state; founded a few short-term settlements in North America; and raided as far south as North Africa.

          Viking traders, sailing on shallow-draft longboats, were some of the most peripatetic merchants of the day, attested to by the vast number of Persian, Byzantine Arab and Central Asian coins and silver ornaments found in Northern European hoards, the result of the Viking fur-and-slave trade. A few centuries later, the Vikings traded their axes for fishing nets and became integrated into the European common market via the Hanseatic trading network, which prized Nordic stockfish — dried cod, which was one of the most popular and profitable foodstuffs of the Middle Ages.

          • tormos says:

            that said Vikings in the “shield biting raiding northmen” sense of the term, were not seen again in england (in any significant numbers) after the defeat of Harold Hardrada in 1066)

          • sinister agent says:

            There could be a Viking behind you RIGHT NOW!

            DON’T LOOK!

  14. Geebs says:

    I hate to say it, because I approve of the general principle, but this guy’s argument is just so intellectually lazy. History is what we chose to believe it was? Great going there guy, after all what do people who actually studied it know, with out you there to diagnose their subconscious bias?

    I would totally have bought the argument that he wants to do this because it’s his aesthetic and moral decision, or just said “because I wanted to”, and that would be fine. After all, that’s exactly what From did with the armour in Dark Souls.

    BTW – boob plate was totally a thing, was absolutely intended to show the wearer’s body off in the best possible way to meet the prevailing aesthetic… and was worn by men :-p

    • The Random One says:

      I guess his point is that all history is to an extent revisionist, so we should embrace that – but a bit defeatist. I suppose it’s OK to make the history you want to make when you’re creating a work of fiction, as in the present case, but even though we can never have completely unbiased history we can at least aspire to it.

      I’d play a game as Conan the Fabulous.

      • tormos says:

        history is essentially all fiction though, no? Stories we tell ourselves that change a few thousand sweaty men wearing too much bronze into 300 noble fighters for truth, justice, and the American Way?

  15. Carlos Danger says:

    Funny and sad in equal measures.

  16. rapier17 says:

    Practicality, practicality, practicality, oooh two long braids hanging down over the chest where they can easily be grabbed and yanked hard to disorient & distract the ‘owner’ with sudden pain. That’s very practical.

    • The Random One says:

      That’s when she pokes them with the helmet horns!

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Have you actually looked at the game? Two-thirds of everybody has braids hanging over their chests. It’s just a question of weather it’s hair or beard.

    • sinister agent says:

      If someone can get close enough to touch her chest and get enough purchase to yank her hair, she lost the fight long ago.

  17. Macaw says:

    The Japanese have martial sport/arts traditions on this. The men tend to pick the sword, the women the halberd. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKh766oXfHw

  18. brgillespie says:

    I found it immensely entertaining that a Swede would consider what the Vikings did to the coastlines of France and England to be simple “colonizing”.

    Simple misunderstanding, guys. They weren’t raiding and pillaging easy targets, they were trying to colonize new lands and having culture clashes.

    Minor nitpick, seems like a really cool guy. We’re all guilty of a bit of revisionism.

    • Dezztroy says:

      He’s not even Swedish, but sure, continue acting like an idiot.

      • brgillespie says:

        That certainly removes any amusement at his commentary on 200+ years of Viking “colonization” attempts.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      You’re not wrong, but maybe at this point we should just assume that the word “colonization” connotates atrocity. I can’t offhand think of any historical “colonizations” that didn’t eventually involve murdering and/or subjugating the people who were already there. The Vikings may have been a bit more direct about it, but that’s just a matter of degree.

    • RedViv says:

      Yeah, because all other colonization and expansion attempts in human history were so very very very peaceful, right? Right? Man, that silly Swedish revisionist!

      • puppybeard says:

        Ex-flippin-zactly!

      • brgillespie says:

        I fail to see how this comment is relevant in any fucking way to my post. Van Dyke clearly states that “what really happened” in the Viking era was that they were trying to colonize all those coastal villages they raided and plundered.

        “The Vikings were historically-documented raiders.” “Yeah, but all other colonizations were pretty vicious, too!”

        “The United States once condoned slavery.” “Yeah, but the Africans themselves were involved in the slave trade, too!”

        Shut up.

        • puppybeard says:

          “I fail to see how this comment is relevant in any fucking way to my post.”

          There’s a huge surprise.

    • Nevard says:

      The French and English colonisations were very humane and friendly affairs, weren’t they?

  19. Shadowcat says:

    That spear looks enormous. How large is it compared to a standard reference spear?

  20. jfml says:

    Haven’t played the game so I’m not sure how character creation works, but I’m guessing while women are possible now PoC are still „unrealistic“?

  21. SuicideKing says:

    Nice dude, and nice interview! Also, good to see the comments section is readable.

  22. DThor says:

    I have a friend who is a formidable kendo practitioner, she is quite petite but is known to kick serious butt, one of the better fighters in the city. Now, one might get into the argument that a formal martial art with rules doth not equal nasty battlefield slaughter, and they’d be right, but I suspect not all women that fought were freakishly large women like Brienne from Game of Thrones. I’m betting they were outliers, and had unique skills and weaknesses. Be interesting to explore that notion.

  23. Universal Quitter says:

    I still haven’t forgiven these clowns for cancelling East vs West, just before open beta was supposed to start. Why do you have to be so damn good, Paradox, but so damn awful at the same time? You don’t have to have your company’s name have some kind of poetic meaning. It can just be a name.

  24. MellowKrogoth says:

    There were a few fighting women in all periods of history, and so they can portray them in their semi-historical game if they want to, but this guy’s arguments are shifty and show a misunderstanding of both modern and ancient society.

    - He’s almost insinuating that there were as many fighting women as men and that women in general were just as strong as men. Maybe that’s not what he means, but it’s still worth adressing, as some feminists (e.g. Sarkeesian from what I’ve read seems to belong to that movement) actually dare to present that as a fact. Science clearly show that men have more muscle mass and are taller, as well as being more agressive. And when fighting hand to hand, there’s no substitute to a large muscular mass – most martial art competitions have weight categories. Add to that women’s periods and childbearing as well as the grisly fate of rape upon capture, and they are clearly less fit for soldier duty when hand to hand combat is involved. It’s not random chance or some kind of worldwide men’s conspiracy that in most primitive cultures men do the fighting and hunting… things kind of fall into place like that.

    - Adding to the previous point, even with the equalizer of firearms, modern criminal underworlds are mostly dominated by men. Food for thought to imagine what would happen if after some large crisis most of the Western world was to revert to a feodal system. I don’t think that makes women inferior in any way, if anything the absence of such violent tendencies makes them superior, but they don’t compare favorably to men in a raw struggle for power.

    - I agree that boob armor/chainmail bikini being basically the only option to represent female characters is just silly and reeks of sexualization. BUT there are many reasons for this kind of characterization besides titillating males, and, I feel it’s dishonest not to mention the legitimate reasons in a discussion on this topic:
    – The female body was always a favorite subject of artists both male and female, because of its nice curves. To an artist, who draws his model originally naked anyways, it’s more interesting to show more than to show less. Overall if you want to make an interesting character model and don’t care much about realism, you’re gonna use your “material”, i.e. the main characteristics of your model, and emphasize them. There’s also the issue that many character models have to still be recognizable from a distance for instance in RTS games, and if you want women to still look like women from a distance, you exaggerate their breasts, waist, buttocks and their walk (see for instance the women peasants in Age of Empires Online).
    – Females in Western cultures like to exhibit their body to various degrees, as most of us can witness every day going to work, or on the beach. You often see a competition of who can push it the farthest, to the point that often what the previous generation would consider as a whore’s outfit (e.g. fishnet stockings) is worn by ordinary women. In a fantasy world where anything goes, it’s normal that females appreciate having an avatar that follows the same tendencies, but pushed even farther since there’s no fear of criticism (or worse) by men or other women. In my experience most girls either like or don’t mind boob armor when they see it in-game and the only people I know personally that actively criticize it are, curiously, men.
    – Any direct comparison between the amount of skin shown by men and women character in a game is silly. Some gamers demand that each sex show the exact same amount of skin, to be equally sexualized. Problem is, men and women don’t have the same conception of what’s sexy. This is, again, often a case of males thinking they are feminists and failing miserably at it.
    – All that talk about boob armor always carefully avoids mentioning the most famous female warriors of all times, the Amazons, who fought mostly naked. Do you really think females are too “innocent” to use their bodies to bedazzle their mostly male opponents? Besides, practicality was not always the primary factor in choosing battle dress; in many cultures fighting naked was done either as a sign of courage, to display battle paint and impress the enemy or just because fighting gear was expensive and soldiers expendable (Persian army comes to mind).
    – Ceremonial armor does exist and is ususally not practical in the least. A female version of those would most likely be designed to enhance the female form. And you can’t really blame game creators to prefer showing shiny ceremonial stuff on characters instead of boring standard issue practical armors. Just like it’s more fun to be unrealistic Rambo than realistic grunt #4567, even though the occasional super-realistic simulator can find a small audience.

    - To finish with the topic of women in this game, what about historical immersion? i.e. having the feeling of having time-travelled to a different time period? The issue here is that by adding the option of female characters, you can bet that more than half the players (male and female) are gonna pick a female character. That’s gonna make battles look a-historical, diminishing their historical and immersion value. It’s definitely grating in other games such as Pirates of the Burning Sea when half the guards and players are female: basically kills any chance of feeling like you’re in an accurate movie or documentary about the time period.

    - Do females really need to be lied to? Historical revisionism such as this only serves to make young women less sensitive to gender issues, as it presents a world where both sexes have always been equal. Those who forget history tend to repeat the errors of the past.

    • tormos says:

      so there was a time in my life when I would have bothered to argue you with you but as it is I’m just going to call you a misogynistic ass and invite you to kindly go fuck yourself