American McGee

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American McGee
American McGee.jpg
American McGee in 2004.
Born American James McGee
(1972-12-13) December 13, 1972 (age 42)
Dallas, Texas
Occupation Game designer
Known for American McGee's Alice, Alice: Madness Returns, Doom II, Quake
Website www.americanmcgee.com

American James McGee (born December 13, 1972) is an American game designer. He is perhaps best known as the designer of American McGee's Alice.

Early life[edit]

American James McGee was born to an eccentric mother who was a house painter. He never knew his father. In explaining where his name came from, American has said that his mother was a hippie and was inspired by a woman she knew in college that named her child "America". McGee was highly creative and was gifted in mathematics and science. He also took an early interest in computer programming, eventually getting accepted to a magnet school for computer science.

"Yes, my mother named me that. She claims a woman she knew in college, who named her daughter 'America', inspired the name. She also tells me that she was thinking of naming me 'Obnard'. She was and always has been a very eccentric and creative person."

— American McGee[1]

Being the only child, McGee had a number of stepfathers when growing up until his mother finally settled on a transgender woman. One day when American was sixteen, he came home from school only to find the house empty and abandoned. The only things left were his bed, his books, his clothes and his Commodore 64 computer. His mother had sold the house to pay for two plane tickets and the fee for her girlfriend's sex change operation. American was on his own. He packed up his computer, dropped out of high school and took a variety of odd jobs, finally settling on a Volkswagen repair shop.[2]

Career[edit]

At the age of twenty-one, American was already an automobile and gaming enthusiast. He moved to an apartment complex where he met John Carmack, they became friends, and Carmack offered American a job at id Software [3] as a Tech Support answering phone calls. He was later promoted to level designer after John Romero had been skipping work and no other level designers were available at the time. American McGee, along with Kevin Cloud and Tim Willits, were part of id Software's second generation and had worked on such games as Doom, Doom II, Quake and Quake II as level designer, programmer music production, and sound effects developer.

In 1998, he was let go from id[4] by Carmack for had serving his purpose and had now gone the route of Romero. Ironically, American was quoted saying that the day he got fired was very meaningful to him.[5]

" Probably the most meaningful day for me though [working at id Software]… was the day I was fired. I felt a mixture of terror and freedom that was so significant and powerful - it combined together all the good and bad of the years I'd spent working with Carmack, Romero and the others… and kicked me out into the world to fend for myself. The opportunity to work at id during those early years was so unbelievable - and the path it set me on in letting me go has been even more fantastic. I'm sitting here in Shanghai, China still drawing on many of the lessons and experiences from all those years past… it's been an incredible journey which all started with id."

— American McGee

American soon joined Electronic Arts and worked as creative director on several[citation needed] projects; most notably American McGee's Alice (with Rogue Entertainment), which garnered favorable reviews and became a cult classic.[6] After finishing Alice, McGee left EA "in frustration" when the company fired his creative partner R.J. Berg and shutting down Rogue Entertainment.[7] He then found his first company, The Mauretania Import Export Company.[8]

Partnering with Enlight Software, McGee released the games Scrapland in 2004 and Bad Day L.A. in 2006. The planned American McGee's Oz, which was to be produced in conjunction with Ronin Games, was canceled over financial difficulties at Atari. American McGee's Grimm, developed by his Shanghai-based game development studio Spicy Horse for the on-line service GameTap, was released in twenty-three weekly episodic segments, starting in 2007.

At the 2009 D.I.C.E. Summit, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello announced that a sequel to American McGee's Alice was in development for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by American McGee's Spicy Horse studio.[9][10] In July 2010, at the EA Showcase in San Francisco, Spicy Horse and EA announced that sequel's title, Alice: Madness Returns, released less than one year after its announcement, on June 14, 2011.

More recently, McGee's Spicy Horse expanded to include another brand, Spicy Pony, to produce digital mobile media games for the iPhone platform. Their first title, DexIQ, was released in early December 2009, and its follow-up, Crooked House, was released in March 2010 (both had iPad versions released in June 2010).

On December 17, 2010 McGee's old company The Mauretania Import Export Company was dissolved and all intellectual property was transferred to Spicy Horse.[11]

In 2013 he opened a Kickstarter for a new game, American McGee's OZombie, however due to slow/lackluster funding the project was cancelled. Another Kickstarter for a project called Alice: Otherlands, a planned series of short films leading to a theatrical film, was announced a few days later. This reached its goal on August 4, 2013, and was officially confirmed.[12]

In 2012, American is now focusing on Free-To-Play games for mobile devices with BigHead Bash, Akaneiro, and Crazy Fairies.[13]

Personal life[edit]

McGee has stated his mission is "to create a unified production method for story telling across the interactive and film industries" and of himself, he says, "I want to be the next Walt Disney, only a little more wicked."

In 2005, McGee left the United States and resided first in Hong Kong and now in the Chinese city of Shanghai.[14] Once in China, he created Spicy Horse, now the largest independent game development house in the nation,[citation needed] and helped found Blade (formerly Vykarian), a game outsourcing company. They produced American McGee's Grimm for GameTap (now owned by Metaboli) and worked on the sequel to his original Alice game, Alice: Madness Returns.

He also mentions that his inspiration for the macabre tone of Alice comes from his disturbing, dysfunctional childhood. For instance, on McGee's 13th birthday, his father, whom he had just met for the first time, was "stinking drunk" and assaulted the young McGee by attempting to gouge his eyes out with the intent of either killing or molesting him. McGee escaped this event by suggesting they "take both of their cars" to a bar and get drunk. Luckily, the father agreed. Shortly afterwards his father was involved in a car accident. "They got no more than 100 feet away when American's dad crashed into a telephone pole."[15]

McGee is an atheist and a libertarian.[16]

Games[edit]

See also[edit]

  • Alice, game-derived film
  • dredg, "Same Ol' Road" music video directed by McGee[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "American McGee's Personal Website and Weblog". americanmcgee.com. Archived from the original on 2005-04-03. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  2. ^ Kushner, David (2003). Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created An Empire And Transformed Pop Culture. Great Britain: Judy Piatkus Ltd. ISBN 0-7499-2489-6. 
  3. ^ "The Great American (McGee) Game". wired.com. 2000-12-25. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  4. ^ "John Carmack Archive - .plan 1998". scribd.com. 
  5. ^ Quaddicted. "American McGee on Quake". Quaddicted. Retrieved 12 July 2015. 
  6. ^ Tang, Stephanie. "Despite a Nail-Biting Funding Finale, Alice: Otherlands Is a Go!". GameSkinny. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 
  7. ^ McGee, American (2011). The Art of Alice: Madness Returns. Milwaukee, OR: Dark Horse Comics. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-59582-697-8. 
  8. ^ "(C) TMIEC". tmiec.com. Archived from the original on 2003-08-03. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  9. ^ "The Return of American McGee's Alice Set For PC, Consoles". kotaku.com. 2006-02-19. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  10. ^ "EA and Spicy Horse Return to Wonderland for All-New Alice Title". ea.com. 2009-02-19. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  11. ^ "TMIEC Website Announcement". tmiec.com. 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  12. ^ "Alice: Otherlands". 
  13. ^ Gera, Emily. "How American McGee left 'Alice' for a world of free-to-play, toy stores and life without EA". Polygon. Retrieved 12 July 2015. 
  14. ^ "An American (McGee) In Shanghai". kotaku.com. 2009-01-07. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  15. ^ "The Great American (McGee) Game". wired.com. 2000-12-25. 
  16. ^ https://www.facebook.com/americanmcgee/about Claims atheist under religious views and libertarian under political views.
  17. ^ "RES ALERT December 5, 2002". res.com. Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 

External links[edit]