American James McGee (born December 13, 1972) is an American game developer, and the creator of American McGee's Alice and Alice: Madness Returns, which are his best-known works. He is also known as one of the influential software engineers for games such as Doom II and Quake. He founded The Mauretania Import Export Company in 2000, and his current development company Spicy Horse (and its subdivision Spicy Pony) in 2007.
In 1994, McGee began his career in level design, music production, sound effects development, and programming at id Software, working on such games as the Doom and Quake series. In 1998, he moved to Electronic Arts, where he worked as creative director on several projects, including American McGee's Alice. After finishing Alice, McGee left EA to found his first company, The Mauretania Import Export Company.
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.
In 2007, McGee founded his second game development studio, Spicy Horse and the company released their first title, the American McGee's Grimm series, that same year for the online service GameTap, which ran from July 2007 to April 2008.
At the 2009 D.I.C.E. Summit, Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello announced that a sequel to Alice was in development for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by Spicy Horse. In July 2010, at the EA Showcase in San Francisco, Spicy Horse and EA announced that sequel's title, Alice: Madness Returns.
On December 17, 2010, The Mauretania Import Export Company dissolved and all intellectual property was transferred to Spicy Horse. After less than one year after its announcement, Alice: Madness Returns was released on June 14th 2011.
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 was soon followed by Crooked House in March 2010 (both had iPad versions released in June 2010). Their third iPad title, Akaneiro was released on December 23, 2010.
In June, 2012, American announced that he would be creating a Kickstarter campaign for his latest fairytale title: OZombies, which required a $950,000 goal - his largest Kickstarter goal yet.
When asked where he got his unusual name, he answered, "My mom smoked pot (marijuana). She was a hippie. I'm not sure how else to put that." On his website, American had this to say of the matter: "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."
McGee describes himself as a slightly more wicked version of Walt Disney for interactive and film industries.
In 2005, he left the United States, and he currently lives in Shanghai, where he created Spicy Horse and helped found Blade, a game outsourcing company.
McGee identifies as an atheist and libertarian.
Levels by McGee
Doom/The Ultimate Doom
- MAP02: Underhalls
- MAP03: The Gantlet
- MAP04: The Focus
- MAP05: The Waste Tunnels
- MAP06: The Crusher
- MAP07: Dead Simple (with Sandy Petersen)
- MAP14: The Inmost Dens
- MAP22: The Catacombs
Doom II add-on levels
Works and Properties
- 1994 - Wolfenstein 3D (Tester)
- 1994 - Doom II: Hell on Earth (Level Designer)
- 1994 - Doom (Level Designer)
- 1995 - The Ultimate Doom (Level Designer)
- 1995 - Doom (Tester)
- 1996 - Quake (Level Designer, Sound Designer, Tools Programmer)
- 1996 - H!Zone (Co-Producer)
- 1996 - Hexen: Beyond Heretic (Co-Producer)
- 1996 - Final Doom (Level Designer)
- 1997 - Quake Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon (Level Designer)
- 1997 - Quake Mission Pack 2: Dissolution of Eternity (Level Designer)
- 1997 - Quake II (Level Designer, Sound Designer, Tools Programmer)
- 1997 - Doom 64 (Level Designer)
- 1998 - Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3 (Sound Designer)
- 2000 - Timeline (Co-Designer, Co-Writer)
- 2000 - American McGee's Alice (Project Leader, Co-Writer, Designer)
- 2004 - American McGee Presents: Scrapland (Producer)
- 2006 - American McGee Presents: Bad Day L.A. (Creative Director, Writer, Co-Designer)
- 2008 - American McGee's Grimm (Project Leader, Creative Director, Co-Writer, Co-Designer)
- 2009 - DexIQ (Project Leader, Creative Director)
- 2011 - Alice: Madness Returns (Project Leader, Co-Writer, Designer)
- 2013 - Akaneiro: Demon Hunters (Project Leader, Co-Writer, Designer)
- 2015 (Estimate) - OZombie (Project Leader, Co-Writer, Designer)
McGee has written a script for his interpretation of L. Frank Baum's Oz for Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney.
The film rights to Alice were sold to Miramax and Dimension in 2004, before being passed onto 20th Century Fox and then to Universal Pictures the following year. McGee maintains credit as creator and producer of the film project. There has been no particular evidence of a movie being produced anytime soon.