If you thought this would be naught, I’ve got bad news for you.
Trauma is different for everyone affected. It can look different, and the person can wear it differently. He Fucked the Girl Out of Me doesn’t overtly say this but seems to understand trauma like, well, someone who has dealt with it for a long time.
Selected by the International Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam for their DocLab exhibition, He Fucked the Girl Out of Me is both difficult and important to talk about. Part of the difficulty is it’s an 18+ game with an F-bomb in the title. It gets filed right next to the games about big-breasted androids. Any site that reports on it runs the risk of getting a weird look from the robots that run the internet (breast-size unknown).
It’s a free game, so developer Taylor Mccue isn’t going to lose any money on it, but writing about trauma is difficult in itself. You don’t want to send it out into the world to die and not be seen.
Without judgment or blame
You may ask yourself, “why would I want to play a game that makes me feel bad?” Although I may opine tragedy as a dead art, I also think it’s a fair enough point. There’s something to be said about keeping your head in the sand, but it’s another thing to pull it out and stick it in a termite mound instead. Indeed, I had my own concerns when I went into the game, but I felt the subject matter was one I needed more perspective on.
He Fucked the Girl Out of Me is presented as a semi-autobiographical recount of the author’s experience as a trans woman in the sex trade. While it doesn’t pull any punches, it’s not a pornographic game. At the same time, it goes out of its way to show what happened in a way that’s free of judgment and blame. It presents itself as a perspective on these particular traumatic events. One person’s trauma is another person’s kink. This is what happened. It happened because things happen. Just try to understand why it hurt so badly.
The story is told earnestly as a collection of memories linked up as best they can be. While control is handed over to the player at times, generally, the only option is to walk the way it wants you to and interact with something before it proceeds. While it impressively comes packed as a Game Boy ROM, it’s more of a narrative than a game.
Not necessarily a recommendation
My concerns about playing He Fucked the Girl Out of Me proved to be on the money. I did my playthrough the night before doing this write-up and lost considerable sleep. Although my experiences aren’t directly comparable with what’s depicted, it seems to have unlocked a memory my brain repressed. On the positive side, it’s one that my therapist has been probing to find, so I’m sure she’ll be… well, “happy” about it is definitely not the right sentiment. Relieved that we can now address the issue is likely more accurate.
Where He Fucked the Girl Out of Me is important is in how it can help you understand trauma. Not just the kind experienced by other people, but quite possibly your own. It’s a subject that is incredibly difficult to both explain and wrap your head around, to the point where a lot of people don’t even try. And that’s to the world’s detriment.
We, especially as gamers, tend to relate maturity with violence, swearing, and nudity, which is funny because those are concepts that we learn to understand as children. Tackling and understanding heavy topics like trauma is a truer measure of maturity. It allows us to grow beyond the lessons learned in childhood and become better people, both for ourselves and others.
Take care of yourself
If there’s one last thing I need to say about He Fucked the Girl Out of Me, it’s simply: be careful. Trigger warnings are discussed before the game is started, but even if you’re not susceptible, you should be prepared for what you’re getting into. You need to understand that the game is a bummer, and even if it explains another person’s important life experiences and gives perspective on mental trauma, you also need to take care of yourself.
I don’t regret having played it. At the same time, I’m not happy that I did. I just knew I had to, and I did my best to prepare myself for the consequences. So this isn’t exactly a recommendation. This is merely me trying to say, “Here’s this thing. It should be appreciated.”