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American James McGee 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.

When McGee was designing sound effects for Quake, his sound library consisted of disks bought from a company, but he can’t remember the name. (drip1 comes from it.) He also used a large library created from scratch and provided by Nine Inch Nails. In order to invent any sound in Quake, he would use something raw from one of those sources or combine different sounds from different sources to create something new. He also did some foley work of his own.[1]

For the last month of the development of Quake, McGee was not present at the company due to coming down with a heavy illness. This meant that Tim Willits had to finish the work McGee started so that the game could be shipped, though it appears this was only needed for E3M6: Chambers of Torment.

American McGee has often gone by the alias Tokay. While most of the id Software team would use their names on the IRC channels, for example, McGee was often known by his Tokay handle. McGee was part of the Dark Requiem clan in 1996, joining on September 1st.


In 1994, McGee began his career in level design, music production, sound effects development, and programming at id Software; McGee has contributed to the creation of the Doom series, Quake, and Quake II. After being let go by Id Software in 1998 [2], 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. [3] [4] 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. Due to slow/lackluster funds, the project was eventually 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. [5] Currently, McGee is attempting to raise fan support for a proposed third Alice game, under the working title Alice: Asylum, in order to convince EA that enough interest exists to justify the game being made[6].

Personal Life

When asked where he got his unusual name, he answered, "My mom smoked pot. 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." [7]

His stated 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."

In 2005, he left the United States, and he currently lives in Shanghai [8], where he created Spicy Horse and helped found Blade, a game outsourcing company.

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."

McGee is both an atheist and a libertarian.[9]

Quake Levels

Most of American McGee's levels belong to the Runic Level Theme.


  1. That's an excellent question. And there's a really simple answer. All the same sound effect. And all taken from a sound library that each company bought/used for their individual project(s). When I was making sound effects for Quake my sound library consisted of CDs bought from a company... the name escapes me now (that's where the drip came from). And also a large library created from scratch and provided by the Nine Inch Nails guys. To create any one sound in Quake I'd use something raw from one of those sources or combine different sounds from different sources to create something new. I also did some foley work of my own - exploding fireworks inside tubes on the roof of the id offices, for example. That's where the distinctive "whump" sound from an underwater grenade explosion originated. The Nail Gun sound was a combo of guns, helicopter turbine whine, etc.
    See this article for a scream that's found in most movies... and I included in Quake for fun as well
  2. http://www.scribd.com/doc/14192/John-Carmack-Archive-plan-1998
  3. http://kotaku.com/5156821/the-return-of-american-mcgees-alice-set-for-pc-consoles
  4. http://investor.ea.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=366638
  5. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spicyhorse/alice-otherlands
  6. https://www.facebook.com/alicemadnessreturns/photos/a.153125998068406.25188.112656785448661/1611803475533977/?type=3
  7. http://web.archive.org/web/20050403214430/http://www.americanmcgee.com/blosxom.cgi/faq/
  8. http://kotaku.com/5125130/an-american-mcgee-in-shanghai
  9. https://www.facebook.com/americanmcgee/about?section=contact-info

External links