Monday, 17 October 2011

An Interview with American McGee

American McGee is a games developer who has worked on a variety of different games, such as Doom, Doom II, Quake 1 and 2, as well as his more recent "twisted fairytale" creations, such as Alice, and this years excellent Alice: Madness Returns.

Being a fan of Alice: Madness Returns (a brilliant game with Zelda-like game play) in particular, I decided to get in touch with American to interview him on his career. Here are his responses!

Q. The aspect I loved the most about Alice and Alice: Madness Returns is the macabre, gothic feel. Why did you choose to adopt this style?

A: The style came naturally out of the period in which Alice lived and the many interpretations people have made based on the original books since their release. The Victorian era provides many great examples of early fashion, writing and designs which are very gothic in nature.  

Q. Your games show a love of fairy tales, with Alice for example being a sort of "twisted fairy tale." What interests you about them?

A: Many of these tales have endured for 1000s of years - the origin of Red Riding Hood, for example, goes back to a time before written history. These tales are passed down in oral or written form because they speak to the heart of the human condition, our fears, our weaknesses and our compassion. When building games based on these tales it's possible to use a sort of narrative shorthand, because the audience already brings so much of the story and tone with them.
Q. You became a Creative Director when you worked with Electronic Arts. What's the best parts of this role?

A: It's just a title like any other. Making games is a truly collaborative process, and we each do our bit regardless of title. Most days now I'm less focused on "creative" aspects of the business and more concerned with supporting the studio in general. And that best describes what I've enjoyed most about my time in the industry, regardless of title, and that's being a part of and helping teams of people to achieve their creative goals.

Q. Is there any news for when the Alice film will make an appearance?

A: Nope.

Q. Your games have received many positive reviews. How does this make you feel?

A: Usually better than the negative ones.
Q. What is your favourite part of the games making process? 

A: Seeing the reactions generated by the finished product.

Q. Are there any games that you have taken inspiration from in your own work?

A: Almost every game, film or other bit of creative output I absorb can have a potential impact on the work I do. It's rare that I see or hear something that doesn't make me think in some way of the its message or style might be applied in a game we're making or thinking of.

Q. And finally, have you got anything new in the pipeline?

A: We're currently working on a number of free-to-play online games. One of them, called Akaneiro, is based on Red Riding Hood but set in ancient Japan. The other is called Big Head Bash and takes place inside a toy shop. All the games we're working on these days are online and F2P, meant to be played by a wide audience around the world. You can learn more about them on


  1. I've been wanting to play alice for quite awhile, still haven't though. :/
    Oh and nice post.

  2. I absolutely love this game and I enjoyed this post.

  3. Awesome game, but he seems like a douche.

  4. Awesome game!!! I was worried the new Alice would not live up to the gameplay of the first. Alice Returns was better!!! I can't wait for more games like this.

  5. Excellent interview -- I especially love a couple of his responses, interesting insights here. Good work!!

  6. I love this game!!!

    Played the original in PC long time ago and bought the new one for ps3 which came with a free download of the original!!!

  7. Rohan92: It's definitely worth it!

    Jasmine Marie: It's one of my favourites, and thank you, I'm glad you liked my interview!

    Anon: He's sent me a few emails and he seemed rather pleasant in them to me. :)

    Piper: Yeah, I actually think Madness Returns is a much, much better game than the first!

    NintendoLegend: Thank you! I'm glad you liked the interview. It's been one of my most enjoyable so far, and I received such a huge response from it!

    Anon: It was great getting both of them in one package when Madness Returns was released, wasn't it? :)

  8. Great interview!

    I've been a fan of McGee since the first Alice came out

    Still need to complete Madness Returns though >_<


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