1156: Winner of IDFA DocLab Digital Storytelling Award “He Fucked the Girl Out of Me” Explores Trauma in 2D Retro Game Walking Simulator

Taylor McCue’s He Fucked the Girl Out of Me (play for free on itch.io) won the IDFA DocLab Digital Storytelling Award at DocLab 2022. It is a deeply personal story and powerful exploration of shame and trauma that uses a unique blend of retro 2D Game Boy aesthetics, graphic novel, narrative game walking simulator, with structural inspirations from Bagenzo’s Madotsuki’s Closet, which a fan fiction game of Yume Nikki.

I found it to be a deeply moving piece and unlike any other interactive narrative piece I’ve ever experienced before, and so I naturally wanted to interview McCue in Amsterdam unpacking their journey and process in creating this. The game has a lot of different content warnings, and I’ll include a subset of those warnings that apply to our conversation here: Trauma, Gender Dysphoria, Suicidal Ideation, Blood, and Themes of Sex Work. Here’s another excerpt from the trigger warning page: “Trauma is a part of life. Everyone has trauma. Trauma is common in trans people. This game is made of memories. Those memories are about sex work. I’ve fictionalized them. That is the only way that I can get close to the truth without getting messy.”

Here is the IDFA DocLab jury statement for this experience: ““He Fucked the Girl Out of Me by Taylor McCue is a personal account of a horrific experience, as it is supposed to be. The writing of the story is phenomenal, emotional, and intimate. The experience is a unique approach to conveying a complicated personal history in the artist’s own terms. They wanted to tell their story on their terms, and you feel this in the pacing and in the gravity of the storytelling. The use of a retro computer game as the medium for the story was well chosen, so lo-fi and yet so dense. The gameplay itself is an often effective symbol for the powerlessness of the protagonist, as we’re given the suggestion of choice, but ultimately, there is none. It is an experience we will not soon forget; at times, we wanted to escape the game and the painful story, but we just couldn’t. The jury kept on talking about it, and therefore we are convinced this is the winner of the 2022 IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling,” 

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Music: Fatality