Misadventures in Funcoland: Sexism in ClaylandOctober 5, 2009
Store: Ann Arbor
Notable Gaming Release: Not really sure…
Most of my stories have dealt with new release type stuff, and while there are great stories to be told, what brought some of the most interesting folk into Funcoland were those who were looking for used games for older systems. The kind of people that would come in looking for these older games pretty much ran the gamut. There would be the collectors who were looking to complete their collections… obviously. We had this guy that would come in, I’m not sure of his real name at this point but we’ll just say NESCollector. He was working towards purchasing every single NES game made, like EVERY one. He would come in with a list of games he was still looking for and eventually we got to the point where we would just let him come behind the counter to look through what we had since it was quicker and we were pretty sure the guy wouldn’t rip us off. He eventually got hired part time. NESCollector was a big time ICP fan, like a straight up jugallo, or how ever you spell it. I found out a few years after leaving Funcoland that he became a born again christian. Like cleaned up and sold his entire collection.
So this particular story revolves around a woman and her two sons. The thing that struck me first when they walked in was that they all had bright blonde hair. The two sons were probably like 9 and 10, real close in age. They were a real clean cut family, proper manners, well to do, etc. The next notable thing that caught my attention was that both of the kids had Sega Nomads.
The Sega Nomad was a pretty awesome little handheld. It was a portable Sega Genesis. It played all of the Genesis games and could even be hooked up to a tv to be played and had a port to plug in a second controller. So mom and the sons came in looking for Clayfighter for the Genesis.
Clayfighter was a 1 on 1 fighting game that used claymation characters for the fighters. No blood, but chunks of clay would fly. All the characters were wild caricature’s like the snow man you see there, or this giant lump of green clay, and the most important one for this story… Helga who was the stereotypical “fat lady” opera singer. I’m talking long blonde braids, brass viking bra, the whole nine yards.
So the kids were really excited about coming in to get this game because mom didn’t allow them to play violent video games. So no Street Fighter, no Mortal Kombat, who know’s what else. This was monumental for these kids cuz so many years late, they were finally going to get to experience vs fighting games. Do also keep in mind that at this point, the Playstation and N64 had been out for years. Hell the Dreamcast may have already been out by then. So the kids had told their mom about this game and mom wanted to see if it was ok. Cartoon violence was fine I guess.
So we had several copies of it and the kids had brought in their Nomad’s to try it out. So we load them both up with them and the kids start testing it out. It’s a semi touching family moment if you ask me. The kids are all giddy, mom is happy that her son’s are happy. The younger of the son’s is getting his ass kicked though. So I suggest he can go into the options and change the difficulty to “Very Easy.” He does so and starts up but is still getting his ass handed to him… by Helga. So he keeps trying different fighters, each time being put up against Helga. This is when it gets ugly…
Mom looking over his shoulder the whole time notices this and starts to get a little uppity. Actually she was pretty much furious. After having set the difficulty to the easiest setting, the first character you come to every time is a woman. I mean she was livid, going off on this soap box rant about teaching kids that women are weak. The kids were terrified, obviously they are not used to seeing their mom act like this as she seemed to be a pretty loving and caring mom. At this point, CoolManager comes over and is trying to calm the woman down. She’s demanding the # for corporate, district manager, all kinds of stuff. She’s determined to get this game banned, like 8 years after it came out lol.
She ends up ripping the carts out of the Nomads and storms out of the store. We did end up hearing back from her a little while later. She came in to buy up all the copies of the game so she could throw them out.
While the fact that starting the game on very easy always started out with Helga could say something to the fact that maybe the woman was right, hell I dunno. It was a B Class video game that was nearing a decade old at that point. Personally I think it was arbitrary as to Helga being the first opponent on the easiest setting. Maybe we’ll never know…