American James McGee (born December 13, 1972)
[Birth record for American James McGee - Dallas, Texas, Birth Index, 1903–1997 - Ancestry.com ]
is an American
video game designer
Video game design is the process of designing the content and rules of video games in the pre-production stage and designing the gameplay, environment, storyline and characters in the production stage. Some common video game design subdiscipline ...
. He is best known as the designer of '' American McGee's Alice
'', its sequel '' Alice: Madness Returns
'', and his works on various video games from
id Software LLC () is an American video game developer based in Richardson, Texas. It was founded on February 1, 1991, by four members of the computer company Softdisk: programmers John Carmack and John Romero, game designer Tom Hall, a ...
American James McGee was born on December 13, 1972, in
Dallas () is the third largest city in Texas and the largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States at 7.5 million people. It is the largest city in and seat of Dallas County wi ...
Texas (, ; Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, it is the second-largest U.S. state by b ... [ to an eccentric mother who was a house painter. His only interaction with his biological father was on his 13th birthday, a meeting which turned violent as McGee's father drunkenly assaulted him that night.] McGee was highly creative and was gifted in mathematics and science, taking an early interest in computer programming. He was eventually accepted to a magnet school
In the U.S. education system, magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curricula. "Magnet" refers to how the schools draw students from across the normal boundaries defined by authorities (usually school boards) as schoo ... for computer science.
In explaining where his name came from, McGee has said that his mother was a hippie and was inspired by a woman she knew in college that named her child "America":
McGee had a number of stepfathers when growing up until his mother finally settled into a relationship with a transgender woman. When McGee was sixteen, he came home from school and found his 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 reassignment surgery, leaving him 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.
At 21, McGee, an automobile and gaming enthusiast, moved to an apartment complex where he met and befriended John Carmack. Carmack offered McGee a tech support job at
id Software LLC () is an American video game developer based in Richardson, Texas. It was founded on February 1, 1991, by four members of the computer company Softdisk: programmers John Carmack and John Romero, game designer Tom Hall, a ..., where he was quickly promoted to level designer and music manager. [ McGee, along with ] Kevin Cloud
Kevin Cloud is an American video game artist. He graduated from LSU-Shreveport in 1987 with a degree in political science. Cloud acquired his first full-time job as a computer artist at Softdisk in 1985. He was hired by id Software on March 10, ... and Tim Willits
Tim Willits is the former studio director, co-owner, and level designer of id Software, the American video game developer company. As of August 2019, Willits is the chief creative officer at Saber Interactive. He became a Director of 3D Realm ..., were part of id Software's "second generation" of developers, working on games such as '' The Ultimate Doom'', '' Doom II
''Doom II'', also known as ''Doom II: Hell on Earth'', is a first-person shooter game by id Software. It was released for MS-DOS computers in 1994 and Macintosh computers in 1995. Unlike the original '' Doom'', which was initially only availab ...'', '' Quake'' and '' Quake II
''Quake II'' is a 1997 first-person shooter video game developed by id Software and published by Activision. It is the second installment of the Quake (series), ''Quake'' series, but not a direct sequel to ''Quake (video game), Quake''. The game ...''.
In 1998, McGee was fired from id Software. Later, McGee would say that the day he got fired was very meaningful to him:
According to former id staff Sandy Petersen, Tim Willits
Tim Willits is the former studio director, co-owner, and level designer of id Software, the American video game developer company. As of August 2019, Willits is the chief creative officer at Saber Interactive. He became a Director of 3D Realm ... was the one responsible for McGee's firing (although he did not mention Willits by name; referring to him only by "Snake" and "X"). Allegedly, during the development of '' Quake II
''Quake II'' is a 1997 first-person shooter video game developed by id Software and published by Activision. It is the second installment of the Quake (series), ''Quake'' series, but not a direct sequel to ''Quake (video game), Quake''. The game ...'', Willits deliberately gave bad level design advice to McGee and when he presented his work to Carmack, it angered him and McGee was fired soon after. McGee has stated to this day, he still has no idea why he was fired but acknowledged the fact that it was due to "internal politics and my own failings".
McGee soon joined
Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) is an American video game company headquartered in Redwood City, California. Founded in May 1982 by Apple employee Trip Hawkins, the company was a pioneer of the early home computer game industry and promoted t ... and worked as creative director on '' American McGee's Alice'' (with Rogue Entertainment), which garnered favorable reviews. Discussions began soon after the game's release about making a film adaptation of the game; initially Wes Craven was attached to direct the film, and later actress Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sarah Michelle Prinze ( ; born April 14, 1977) is an American actress. After being spotted at the age of four in New York City, she made her screen acting debut in the television film ''An Invasion of Privacy'' (1983). A leading role on the te ... bought the film rights, but the film has remained languishing in development hell.
After finishing ''Alice'', McGee left EA "in frustration" when the company fired his creative partner R. J. Berg and shut down Rogue Entertainment. In 2002, McGee founded the short-lived Carbon6, which two years later became known as Mauretania Import Export Company.
The Mauretania Import Export Company
McGee directed the 2002
A music video is a video of variable duration, that integrates a music song or a music album with imagery that is produced for promotional or musical artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a music marketing devic ... for the song "Same Ol' Road" by the band dredg, from their album '' El Cielo''. Partnering with Enlight Software and its founder Trevor Chan, 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 23 weekly episodic segments, starting in 2007.
At the 2009 D.I.C.E. Summit, Electronic Arts CEO
John Riccitiello () is an American business executive who is chief executive officer (CEO) of Unity Technologies. Previously, he served as CEO, chief operating officer and president of Electronic Arts, and co-founded private equity firm Ele ... announced that a sequel to ''American McGee's Alice'' was in development for PC, PlayStation 3
The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is a home video game console developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. The successor to the PlayStation 2, it is part of the PlayStation brand of consoles. It was first released on November 11, 2006, in Japan, November ... and Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 is a home video game console developed by Microsoft. As the successor to the original Xbox, it is the second console in the Xbox series. It competed with Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation ... by McGee's Spicy Horse studio. 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
The iPad is a brand of iOS and iPadOS-based tablet computers that are developed by Apple Inc. The iPad was conceived before the related iPhone but the iPhone was developed and released first. Speculation about the development, operating ... versions released in June 2010). On December 17, 2010, McGee's old company The Mauretania Import Export Company was dissolved and all intellectual property
Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. The best-known types are patents, cop ... was transferred to Spicy Horse.
In 2012, McGee was focusing on free-to-play games for mobile devices with BigHead Bash, Akaneiro, and Crazy Fairies. In 2013, he opened a Kickstarter
Kickstarter is an American public benefit corporation based in Brooklyn, New York, that maintains a global crowdfunding platform focused on creativity. The company's stated mission is to "help bring creative projects to life". As of July 2021, K ... for a new game, ''American McGee's OZombie''; however, due to slow/lackluster funding the project was canceled. 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.
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
Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American animator, film producer and entrepreneur. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. As a film p ..., only a little more wicked."
In 2005, McGee left the United States and resided for a time in Hong Kong
Hong Kong ( (US) or (UK); , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (abbr. Hong Kong SAR or HKSAR), is a city and special administrative region of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta i ... before moving to Shanghai
Shanghai (; , , Standard Mandarin pronunciation: ) is one of the four direct-administered municipalities of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The city is located on the southern estuary of the Yangtze River, with the Huangpu River flowi ..., where he lived as of 2009. Once in China, he created Spicy Horse, at one point the largest independent Western game development house in the nation, and helped found Blade (formerly Vykarian), a game outsourcing
Outsourcing is an agreement in which one company hires another company to be responsible for a planned or existing activity which otherwise is or could be carried out internally, i.e. in-house, and sometimes involves transferring employees and ... 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
In works of art, the adjective macabre ( or ; ) means "having the quality of having a grim or ghastly atmosphere". The macabre works to emphasize the details and symbols of death. The term also refers to works particularly gruesome in natu ... tone of ''Alice'' comes from his disturbing, dysfunctional childhood.
In 2015, McGee declared his sister, Mercy Covington, missing. Believing she was taken by an opponent of GamerGate, McGee contacted Dallas Police. Very little effort was made to find her; thus resulted in McGee hiring a private investigator and starting a GoFundMe. Upon raising funds, Dallas PD soon declared Covington to be in severe danger and may have been met with foul play. As of current, McGee's sister is still missing.
McGee continues to live in Shanghai with his wife, Yeni Zhang. The couple co-founded Mysterious, Inc., a company that markets art, apparel, and accessories based on McGee's works. The couple have two children, Lucky Jack McGee (张吉克) and Leeloo McGee (张玲珑).
One of McGee's favorite books is Stephen King
Stephen Edwin King (born September 21, 1947) is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels. Described as the "King of Horror", a play on his surname and a reference to his high s ...'s '' On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft''.
American McGee Reddit Questionnaire
(January 21, 2013)
American McGee's Patreon page
Pirate Jam website
American video game designers
Id Software people
American expatriates in China