American McGee’s positioned himself as quite a polarizing figure within the gaming industry, but – success or horrific crash-and-burn failure – you can’t knock his imagination. And while the recently released Akaneiro: Demon Hunters‘ blend of Japanese folklore and Little Red Riding Hood at least looks quite attractive, it’s another fairytale fusion that put him on the map. American McGee’s Alice raised quite the stir when it was released back in 2000, and Alice: Madness Returns‘ world was brilliantly realized, if not always fun to be in. But they sort of came out 11 years apart, so really, what are the odds we’ll get another anytime soon? Well, actually pretty good, if McGee get his McWay. The main thing stopping him? EA, of course. He explained the situation during a recent interview with RPS.
“I’d like to continue working on [Alice], and that’s sometimes frustrating because the ownership of the franchise lies with EA,” he said. “They decide what to do with it. It’d be great if that was something where it was easier for me to call them up and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got money. We want to continue working on this. Let us have license to do that.’”
Yes, American McGee is unable to obtain a license to a franchise with his name literally written on it. But that’s because – as he went on to explain – it was actually EA that decided to put his name up in lights in the first place. The publisher wanted to “distance” McGee’s madder-than-10,000-Mad-Hatters vision from the vanilla public domain version, so as to avoid allowing others to freely use its property. And, though McGee prefers to keep his name off his games now that he’s independent, he’s certainly not unhappy with how things turned out in the long run.
“I’m really happy and proud of those games, and if I were to be hit by a bus tomorrow, it wouldn’t be a bad legacy. ‘Oh, that was the guy who did those Alice games.’”
“It’s better than being remembered for Bad Day LA,” he added with a laugh.
So then, where to from here? Well, that’s up to EA. For now, McGee’s focus is on Akaneiro, but if the publishing behemoth made lumbering advances in his direction, he certainly wouldn’t say no.
“Of course I want to make another one. Alice is a really wonderful character, and obviously I have a really great affinity for working with her and the material that comes with her. So I do hope someday – you know, if I can stop pissing EA off in the press – that I could work with them again to make another one.”
That’s just a tiny sliver of a massive chat I had with McGee recently. Look for the full thing – which covers his career, development philosophies, thoughts on violence in society, plans for the future, and somewhat controversial use of Kickstarter, among many other things – in the near future. You know, once my fingers grow back after my hands decided to detach them in a lizard-like fashion and flee from a thousand hours of transcription.