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

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.


McGee began his career at id Software,[1] working on level design, music production, sound effects development, and programming in such games as Doom II, Quake, and Quake II. In 1998, he was let go from Id[2] and joined Electronic Arts, where he worked as creative director on several[citation needed] projects, including American McGee's Alice (with Rogue Entertainment). After finishing Alice, McGee left EA to found his first company, The Mauretania Import Export Company.[3]

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 online 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.[4][5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

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."

Upon inquiry about his unusual name: "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."[8]

In 2005, McGee left the United States and resided first in Hong Kong and now in the Chinese city of Shanghai.[9] 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."[10]

McGee is an atheist and a libertarian.[11]


See also[edit]

  • Alice, game-derived film
  • dredg, "Same Ol' Road" music video directed by McGee[12]


  1. ^ "The Great American (McGee) Game". 2000-12-25. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  2. ^ "John Carmack Archive - .plan 1998". 
  3. ^ "(C) TMIEC". Archived from the original on 2003-08-03. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  4. ^ "The Return of American McGee's Alice Set For PC, Consoles". 2006-02-19. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  5. ^ "EA and Spicy Horse Return to Wonderland for All-New Alice Title". 2009-02-19. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  6. ^ "TMIEC Website Announcement". 2010-12-15. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  7. ^ "Alice: Otherlands". 
  8. ^ "American McGee's Personal Website and Weblog". Archived from the original on 2005-04-03. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  9. ^ "An American (McGee) In Shanghai". 2009-01-07. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 
  10. ^ "The Great American (McGee) Game". 2000-12-25. 
  11. ^ Claims atheist under religious views and libertarian under political views.
  12. ^ "RES ALERT December 5, 2002". Archived from the original on 2007-07-15. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 

External links[edit]