Mitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan ColumnAge of Conan Editorial: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun… As WellMitra's Method: Stephen "weezer" Spiteri's Age of Conan Column - RSS 2.0
Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, yes, we've all probably read that somewhere at some stage in our lives, but as if we needed a book to remind us that men and women are different from each other, but it's the differences that we celebrate. Having said that, however, there are those among us who feel that it needs to be settled once and for all which of the sexes is superior. So like an empty Slushy cup, mutual respect for each respective gender is cast aside and what ensues is this seeming never-ending battle of the sexes, and who is the victor? Is it the man with his raw strength, ability to lift heavy things and apparent knowledge of most things mechanical and technical? Or is it the woman with her unique ability to multitask, give birth to a child and balance the books once again saving the family from the dreaded red line? Could we not just call it "even"?
Last week in Funcom's Friday Update for 'Age of Conan', we learned more about the women in Conan's world, Hyboria. If you're familiar with the works of Robert E. Howard, you'll then know that his literary depictions of women in contrast with more contemporary literature were not all that flattering; it was the 1920s and 30s when he wrote his stories after all. But that does not give credence to say that there did not exist any strong female characters in Howard's Conan stories at all. While few in number, they were around - Valeria and Bêlit spring to mind - and made their impression(s) on Conan, and not just in the physical sense either. But more to the point, your "average" woman in Hyboria was nothing short of the archetypal "damsel in distress" who would, on frequency, come to Conan seeking a strong arm and sharp blade to help rid themselves of their respective predicaments. Howard's Hyboria was certainly a "man's world".
So Funcom comes along and has a look at the Conan license and decides that, while paying all due to respect to Howard's works and bearing in mind the social contexts in which his stories were written, we're in the twenty-first century now, and obviously things have changed. It's not right that players be deprived of the opportunity to play a female character in any game these days, so naturally, players in 'Age of Conan' will be able to choose the gender of their characters (it's a given in any MMOs on the market today). With that, it was important also that Funcom allow female characters to be just as strong and able as men in a given role despite what it written of women in Howard's stories:
"The world circa-2007 is very different, in most places, than the 1930s in which the original Conan stories came around. Early on in our development, we therefore made a very clear and conscious choice: Namely that any female player in Hyboria should be just as strong and able as any man! The strong, fierce and independent female is perfectly in line with the lore of Howard, however, we have expanded it to include ALL the female players."