Yes, Women in Dragon Age Could Use Longswords

LetalisK

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ShenCS said:
TL:DR; direct strength tends not to matter much past a certain level of competency. Overall body coordination, i.e. dexterity is far more important to swordplay. Ironically enough, archery relies waaaay more on strength, as has been mentioned in the thread.
Wait, so RPGs have been lying to me for decades and flipping Strength and Dexterity/Agility? IMMERSION!! It is broken!

sjard said:
Another misconception is that a physically strong person has to be bulky and bulging muscles. This is the exact opposite of the reality for useful muscle mass. Useful muscles tend to be long and thin, and yes, that means that most of the scariest strongest fighting people in the world look like they're beanpoles.
Fear the gymnasts. They're crazy strong.
 

Ariseishirou

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CrystalShadow said:
Rommel102 said:
I don't have any problem with the women in Dragon Age (or any Bioware game) being strong fighters, wielding swords, etc.

I think the only unrealistic aspect is that when playing as a human female in Dragon Age or as FemShep that the build of the character doesn't match reality. Femshep and the femhuman warrior DA:I characters are both really petite and skinny characters. To be realistic, both should be a lot more muscular and their bodies should reflect that.

For a perfect example: http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--Vjp0gyp6--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/17g69x63n8gjtjpg.jpg
True, but honestly, realistic 'physique' is actually not what people think it is. To some extent it's one of those 'reality seems too fake to be believable' kind of things at this point. There's quite a few examples of stuff like that. For instance, a recent photo of a moon of... Saturn I think looked 'fake' and like CGI, because people expect to see 'atmospheric haze'. (ugh. Why is it when you don't need it you can think of dozens of examples, but when you do, you end up drawing a blank?)


I always find this of relevance when people start talking about 'strength' (or athleticism of any kind) and appearance.
http://www.boredpanda.com/athlete-body-types-comparison-howard-schatz/

Notice the various things where the real athlete looks like something quite different from people's standard conceptions?
(Often leaning towards the bodybuilder, whose body is basically all show, rather than a real athlete, for instance.)

Take note of the female athletes in particular.

Of note:

-weightlifters (one tiny and muscular, and one huge, and for lack of a better description, very fat looking. - Actually seems to be a common trend for weightlifters to look more 'fat' than 'muscular')

-The appearance of all the various gymnasts. (relevant to the especially acrobatic characters, such as say, Lara Croft)
-Long distance runners (anyone that needs considerable stamina)
-Hammer throw. (Not all that muscular. Largish, but not muscular looking), which is to some extent a feat of both strength and coordination
- Shot put (Similar story. This is again a feat of strength and coordination, and again we see someone that doesn't actually seem that muscular)
- Even consider a female boxer. Muscular, yes, but much less dramatically so than you might expect.

The reality is quite a bit different both from what you see in media, AND what people who tend to comment about 'unrealistic' character bodytypes think it should actually look like.

I wonder, if we used these athletes as a reference, and created a game with 'realistic' (strong) female characters, what would the reaction be?

(I'm guessing the weightlifters in particular wouldn't go down well... XD)
Most of this is due to the fact that body fat covers muscle. You also need to eat a lot to gain bulk muscle, and much of this will inevitably be gained as fat. The "cut" or "ripped" appearance people imagine when they think muscles is due more to body fat % than actual strength; this is why you see fat weightlifters and the guys who do World's Strongest Man competitions are chubby rather sleek.

I swam and did track all the way through high school and college, and honestly, the girls who did track looked way more stereotypically "muscular" than the swimmers, even though when we were all in the gym together, the swimmers were 2x and sometimes even 3x stronger in their upper bodies, just like you'd expect. They just had more body fat, because it matters less in swimming (you're weightless) and it even helps a little to endure cold water for long hours of practice. I was primarily a swimmer, but I threw out my shoulder one summer and could only run; by the end of the summer I looked like a muscled beast, even though my actual physical strength had declined considerably. I'd just lost a bunch of body fat, too.

But yeah, someone like Brienne probably wouldn't look that "ripped" because she'd have no reason to cut. She'd probably just look really bulky.
 

Ariseishirou

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Ihateregistering1 said:
I've always wondered: has any RPG (either CRPG or pen and paper) ever made it so that choosing a female vs. male character actually affects anything beyond visual representation, voice, and romance options (Fallout's "lady killer" and "Black Widow" Perks notwithstanding)? Like choosing a female gives you -2 strength but +2 agility, or something along those lines?
Pen and paper RPGs used to have these all the time. I might be revealing myself as an old here, but strength modifiers for female characters were the norm as late as 2E D&D (where by optional rules you could get up to 18 strength as a female character, but not the 18+ ranges like 18/00 - I forget what you got in return. Tits, probably ;p). This wasn't exactly accurate, because the strongest female weightlifters in the world could actually lift more like 18/50, but close enough. (The -4 of the popular meme is grossly unrealistic, there are 50+ year old grandmas in my gym who can lift the equivalent of 14 Strength).

What killed all that wasn't actually the strength modifier for female characters - anyone alive in the real world with eyes knows that women tend to have weaker upper bodies, on average - it was arguments over what to give them in return to make up for it. I knew guys who'd scream bloody murder about giving female characters advantages to intelligence or dexterity (back in Ye Olden Days, it wasn't as well-established that women have equal IQs, and that testing lower in the past was due to social disadvantages/lack of education rather than some "inherent" difference, and there were no women fighter pilots or race car drivers like there are now, so some men argued that they didn't have the "reaction times" for it). Wisdom or charisma were less controversial, but there were still a lot of men who refused to let female characters have a bonus to those (women aren't wiser, they're flightier! charisma isn't good looks, it's force of personality, and almost all great leaders are men! etc.). But giving female characters _nothing_ to make up for the strength penalty meant there was no point in playing one.

So most RPGs just dodged the issue by dropping modifiers entirely.
 

CrystalShadow

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Ariseishirou said:
CrystalShadow said:
Rommel102 said:
I don't have any problem with the women in Dragon Age (or any Bioware game) being strong fighters, wielding swords, etc.

I think the only unrealistic aspect is that when playing as a human female in Dragon Age or as FemShep that the build of the character doesn't match reality. Femshep and the femhuman warrior DA:I characters are both really petite and skinny characters. To be realistic, both should be a lot more muscular and their bodies should reflect that.

For a perfect example: http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--Vjp0gyp6--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/17g69x63n8gjtjpg.jpg
True, but honestly, realistic 'physique' is actually not what people think it is. To some extent it's one of those 'reality seems too fake to be believable' kind of things at this point. There's quite a few examples of stuff like that. For instance, a recent photo of a moon of... Saturn I think looked 'fake' and like CGI, because people expect to see 'atmospheric haze'. (ugh. Why is it when you don't need it you can think of dozens of examples, but when you do, you end up drawing a blank?)


I always find this of relevance when people start talking about 'strength' (or athleticism of any kind) and appearance.
http://www.boredpanda.com/athlete-body-types-comparison-howard-schatz/

Notice the various things where the real athlete looks like something quite different from people's standard conceptions?
(Often leaning towards the bodybuilder, whose body is basically all show, rather than a real athlete, for instance.)

Take note of the female athletes in particular.

Of note:

-weightlifters (one tiny and muscular, and one huge, and for lack of a better description, very fat looking. - Actually seems to be a common trend for weightlifters to look more 'fat' than 'muscular')

-The appearance of all the various gymnasts. (relevant to the especially acrobatic characters, such as say, Lara Croft)
-Long distance runners (anyone that needs considerable stamina)
-Hammer throw. (Not all that muscular. Largish, but not muscular looking), which is to some extent a feat of both strength and coordination
- Shot put (Similar story. This is again a feat of strength and coordination, and again we see someone that doesn't actually seem that muscular)
- Even consider a female boxer. Muscular, yes, but much less dramatically so than you might expect.

The reality is quite a bit different both from what you see in media, AND what people who tend to comment about 'unrealistic' character bodytypes think it should actually look like.

I wonder, if we used these athletes as a reference, and created a game with 'realistic' (strong) female characters, what would the reaction be?

(I'm guessing the weightlifters in particular wouldn't go down well... XD)

Most of this is due to the fact that body fat covers muscle. You also need to eat a lot to gain bulk muscle, and much of this will inevitably be gained as fat. The "cut" or "ripped" appearance people imagine when they think muscles is due more to body fat % than actual strength; this is why you see fat weightlifters and the guys who do World's Strongest Man competitions are chubby rather sleek.

I swam and did track all the way through high school and college, and honestly, the girls who did track looked way more stereotypically "muscular" than the swimmers, even though when we were all in the gym together, the swimmers were 2x and sometimes even 3x stronger in their upper bodies, just like you'd expect. They just had more body fat, because it matters less in swimming (you're weightless) and it even helps a little to endure cold water for long hours of practice. I was primarily a swimmer, but I threw out my shoulder one summer and could only run; by the end of the summer I looked like a muscled beast, even though my actual physical strength had declined considerably. I'd just lost a bunch of body fat, too.

But yeah, someone like Brienne probably wouldn't look that "ripped" because she'd have no reason to cut. She'd probably just look really bulky.
Exactly. This reason alone shows women in general won't look as muscular as men can, even if they were just as strong.
From what I recall, a man can get their body fat percentage down to as little as 1% and be perfectly healthy.
Meanwhile, a woman whose body fat percentage drops below about 12% would be very unhealthy.

And confusing low bodyfat for strength and fitness seems to be a common trend. Like the whole '6-pack' thing, which isn't directly related to being fit at all. It's related to having a bodyfat percentage below about 7 percent!

Fat hides things. Makes the muscles not stand out as much. And because, as a proportion of their bodies, women tend to carry more fat, they aren't going to have the same kind of muscle definition... That simply isn't realistic either.

Maybe 'active/action' women in games could do with being a bit bigger in general, but... Probably not substantially more muscular looking...
 

LetalisK

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Something just occurred to me. How many "Women shouldn't be using longswords in my fantasy game of dragons and fireballs because it isn't realistic and breaks my immersion" people also argue that "It doesn't matter that boob plate isn't realistic, it's a fantasy game of dragons and fireballs"? It would seem these two things are mutually exclusive, but people never cease to surprise.
 

Tsun Tzu

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Sniper Team 4 said:
Wait...what? This is an argument somewhere? That women can't use swords because they're too heavy? In Dragon Age? There are people out there who are actually upset about that? I can't even fathom that train of thought. I mean, have they seen the speed at which the archers fire their arrows? Or the way two-handed warriors swing their weapon around like it's paper? Or the fact that mages can spin their weapons again and again without pulling a muscle in, well, any part of their arm? The idea that a woman can't use a sword, any type of sword, is baffling to me, even more so in a fantasy game.
Just going to quote this, because it's my entire stance on the subject.

I wasn't even aware this was an issue...haven't seen it in any of the forums I frequent or sites I visit either. So, this is out of left field for me.
 

LetalisK

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Shanicus said:
LetalisK said:
Something just occurred to me. How many "Women shouldn't be using longswords in my fantasy game of dragons and fireballs because it isn't realistic and breaks my immersion" people also argue that "It doesn't matter that boob plate isn't realistic, it's a fantasy game of dragons and fireballs"? It would seem these two things are mutually exclusive, but people never cease to surprise.
The number is both surprising and disappointing. But hey, Misogyny never really had to make sense in it's arguments, and the fine line of what counts as 'immersion breaking' is a terrible though common fallback point for those shitheads.

The impressive thing is I've seen both the 'Women are too weak' and the 'Boobplates are awesome' arguments in the same fucking paragraph before. Some days the internet... just meets your lowest expectations.
Wow. On it's own, the boob plate argument can go either way of being misogynistic or honestly just being about fantasy and I just smashed a troll in the gonads with a warhammer so why not. But when used as a garnish on top of the women aren't strong enough argument, it becomes a delicious dish of unadulterated pigotry. That's right, I just made up a new word for sex based prejudice.
 

JohnZ117

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Great article, but I have to know, is there a film on the life of Margaret of Beverly? And if not, WHY!?
 

hermes

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dunam said:
I think the reason that in popular culture women are more likely to use bows is down to the fact that we don't like to see women get hurt and they're not as expendable as men.
I believe the tradition comes from classic mythology (meaning Greek and Roman). In those myths, the only representatives of "warrior women" were the amazons, who were almost always archers. They were famous for (allegedly) cutting their right breast to be able to wield a bow more competently...

It it curious that we took the Greek tradition, though. Other mythologies (for example, the Scandinavian) are full of women that were more than competent in armed combat, and they often used the same weapons as men: battle axes, warhammers and maces.
 

Gildedtongue

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Also still shaking my fist at fantasy games at the misnaming of various swords. "Longsword" is typically synonymous with Hand-And-A-Half or Bastard Swords, and "Broadswords" typically are basket hilted weapons, known to be thicker than rapiers.

The single-handed, long-bladed weapons used in Dragon Age, Dungeons and Dragons, and the rest of fantasy literature are "Arming Swords."
 

GundamSentinel

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ambitiousmould said:
GundamSentinel said:
ambitiousmould said:
Joan of Arc used a longsword. Joan of Arc was a woman. Surely that's all that needs to be said.
She owned a sword, yeah. But there's nothing to indicate she actually fought, much less killed, anyone in combat. She was a military leader, not a combatant.
Fair enough. I hope that I am correct in assuming that you aren't arguing against the idea of women using swords here, and merely trying to restore factual accuracy.
Because I cannot see for the life of me that a woman would be incapable of using a sword after given sufficient training, just as a man would need training. I mean I'm a lad and I couldn't wield a longsword to save my life (and it would be to save my life, I imagine).
Basically Person + Training = Person able to wield a sword, right?
Oh absolutely. Women are perfectly capable of wielding a sword. And as I said in a previous post, I have no problem with women using swords, and certainly not in fiction.

It's just that in certain aspects of sword fighting, and in historical combat in general, strength does play a significant role and OP seems very ignorant in what actually matters in sword fighting and melee combat in general. Yes, a sword weighs as much as a laptop and yes, anyone could swing a laptop around. But swinging a sword is just a part of actually using it in combat. A solid thrust requires strength, grappling with your opponent requires strength, and swinging a sword around for a long period of time while slogging through across a muddy battlefield requires a lot of strength and endurance (after an hour, that sword gets heavy).

On average men are stronger than women and as a consequence, men are better suited to it. Would a well-trained woman be able to use a sword effectively? Yes, certainly! Could a well-trained man do it better or keep it up longer? On average, yes.

Of course, weapon type/style would make a big difference in the role strength and endurance play, but I'm afraid to say men just have a natural advantage. Personally, I'd recommend a spear over a sword. :)

Fact is, women played a marginal role in warfare throughout history, much less as combatants. The examples OP comes with are debatable at best and in the end just that: a couple of examples that prove very little. Some might claim social roles to be responsible for lack of female warriors (and I would ask them: where do you think social roles come from?), but personally I think men are just that bit better at killing each other.
 

Dragonlayer

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I've honestly never heard of anyone complain that Medieval swords were mountains of steel that required the manliest of manly men to lift, let alone swing. But I'm not surprised people would be complaining that women can't do this in reality or games: the internet is full of idiots.

The only thing I think is a bit odd about the selective realism is that Thedas is almost universally more progressive than our own world. I'm not complaining nor do I fail to grasp the meaning of Fantasy (or "escapist fantasy" for that matter), I just think it slightly weird that the worst reaction to homosexuality people have in southern Thedas is a light-hearted titter. Tevinter might be different but only on the basis that gays surprisingly enough can't conceive biological heirs to further the family line and I'm not sure if there was any mention of Qunari views on it.
 

Ambitiousmould

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Abomination said:
ambitiousmould said:
GundamSentinel said:
ambitiousmould said:
Joan of Arc used a longsword. Joan of Arc was a woman. Surely that's all that needs to be said.
She owned a sword, yeah. But there's nothing to indicate she actually fought, much less killed, anyone in combat. She was a military leader, not a combatant.
Fair enough. I hope that I am correct in assuming that you aren't arguing against the idea of women using swords here, and merely trying to restore factual accuracy.
Because I cannot see for the life of me that a woman would be incapable of using a sword after given sufficient training, just as a man would need training. I mean I'm a lad and I couldn't wield a longsword to save my life (and it would be to save my life, I imagine).
Basically Person + Training = Person able to wield a sword, right?
It's true that with sufficient training and practice a woman could best a man of similar situation. The problem is that in those societies women, on a societal level, were "more valuable" than men. If men were off to war someone still had to ensure the kids and home were taken care of. Not every soldier was a bachelor and the whole being pregnant/giving birth thing was not conducive to soldiering. Then there's the whole rape & pillage thing that many non-noble soldiers would sign up for.

Effectively, women in the age were ill-suited to warfare and thus were employed in less than 1% of combat roles. It'd be like having a hammer and a screwdriver. The hammer isn't as good at screwing screws but it can sort of get the job done if you've got no other option and the screwdriver isn't very good at hammering nails but it can get the job done if you've got no other option. In this analogy war is hammering nails and men are hammers, keeping the home in order and raising children is screwing screws and women are screwdrivers. Why would you send women to war? Why would you train women for war?
All that being said (and true), keeping it within the context of Dragon Age (or fantasy games in general) it is a fictional society, wherein it is clear that women are often soldiers and fighters, and therefore them being able to handle swords is entirely fine and realistic.
 

Abomination

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ambitiousmould said:
All that being said (and true), keeping it within the context of Dragon Age (or fantasy games in general) it is a fictional society, wherein it is clear that women are often soldiers and fighters, and therefore them being able to handle swords is entirely fine and realistic.
I have found Dragon Age to, unfortunately, decide on irrational or contradictory social systems.

The whole Qunari believing you are what you were born as or born to be, women can't be warriors etc., that those who deviate will be "re-educated" and eventually, effectively, lobotomized... and then Iron Bull stating they're accepting of trans is just too jarring.

Then the women warriors all over the place, how does the economy function during war? How is the population maintained?

As a student of history I just can't see half the societies functioning... but then again I'm supposedly there to kill darkspawn, demons and dragons.
 

Lightknight

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Of course women can wield those types of weapons, they just wouldn't have nearly the endurance with them that they may have with a weapon that's even just a few pounds lighter. Women mostly didn't fight in the Middle Ages because of the huge chasm of strength disparity that our sexual dimorphism provides. It wasn't that they're emotionally different (holy hell, ever had a woman raging mad at you? Get out of the way sucka), it's that they have significant physical disadvantages in strength. Even in today's society where we don't have to battle every year or do physical work men are 50% stronger in upper body strength than women and 20-30% stronger in lower body strength than women (on average, of course). In order to just break even with men an average woman has to double her upper body strength. This comes at a cost to agility that the average man doesn't actually have to worry about thanks to their naturally larger frame. Now, a man doubling his strength does need to worry about it in the same way.

Another thing that women differ from men in is hand grip. The interesting thing there is that even female athletes cannot reach the level of hand strength as men (on the average). It's one of those things that isn't just a matter of "doubling your strength" and yet directly applies to smashing objects with a weapon you want to hold onto for long periods of time.

So you do get women who exceed the average man but there's a bit of a trade off in doing so. Also, the disparity in strength was likely larger back then than it is now due to cultural differences and labor differences.

Either way, most soldiers didn't where armor and a sword in the gut from a woman kills just as much as from a man. Is it unrealistic for a woman to be wielding a relatively heavy weapon into battle? Yeah, a little, but only because it puts them at a disadvantage compared to other weapons they could be using. Women are just at such a disadvantage physically that being disadvantaged by a heavier weapon is small compared to the overall disadvantage.

Now, could a woman in dragon age use longswords? Yes, it's a fucking game. Women can also turn into dragons and slay villages. Using longswords is where disbelief kicks in?