You selfish, misbegotten, and unnatural child! You smelled the smoke. But you were in dreamland taking tea with your friends. You couldn't be bothered. Your room was protected and spared – while your family upstairs roasted in an inferno of incredible horror.
—The Jabberwock
American McGee's Alice is a third-person psychological horror action video game released for PC on December 6, 2000.[1] The game, developed by Rogue Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts, is an unofficial sequel to Lewis Carroll's Alice novels. It was designed by American McGee and features music composed by Chris Vrenna.[2]

The game uses the id Tech 3 engine first used in Quake III Arena. A PlayStation 2 port was in development but was canceled. A sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, was released June 14, 2011. Downloadable ports of the game for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were also made to coincide with the sequel's release as a free download with brand new copies.

Set years after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, the game features an older, more cynical and macabre incarnation of Alice.



The game's setting presents a considerably more macabre rendition of Wonderland than seen in Lewis Carroll's original portrayal. Wonderland, being a creation of Alice's mind, has been corrupted. Alice's primary objective is to save Wonderland, and in doing so, save herself.


Shortly after Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, at the age of seven, Alice Liddell witnessed the death of her family in an apparently accidental fire that broke out in her home, which was destroyed in the blaze. Suffering from survivor's guilt, Alice began to lose her grasp on reality and was ultimately sent to Rutledge Asylum, where she is observed and treated by Dr. Heironymous Wilson for her catatonia. Alice's only possession in Rutledge is a stuffed rabbit. Ten years after Alice was committed to Rutledge, she finds herself sucked back into a Wonderland that has been twisted.

The White Rabbit summons Alice to aid a radically altered Wonderland, which became a twisted version of itself as it came under the horrible rule of the Queen of Hearts. The Cheshire Cat serves as Alice's companion throughout the game, frequently appearing to guide her with cryptic comments.

When Alice falls down the hole, she finds herself in the Village of the Doomed. This network of tunnels and caves is the home of the Torch Gnomes, and is patrolled by the Queen of Hearts' card guards. Beyond the subterranean village is the Fortress of Doors, where the main attraction is a school of insane children. Within the school lies an ancient book of recipes for magic potions, as well as the ingredients for one concoction in particular which will be useful to Alice.

Beyond the fortress and across a rough, uncharted landscape lies the Vale of Tears, where Alice's friends Bill McGill and the Mock Turtle reside, along with the Duchess. A giant river runs throughout the gloomy, mist-shrouded landscape, and another aquatic location is accessible through a well inside Bill McGill's house. The well is sealed until the Duchess is slain.

On the other side of the Vale of Tears lies Wonderland Woods, one of the largest regions in the game. The woods are initially filled by ponds, cliffs and jump mushrooms, but much deeper into the woods is a region of rock and magma. This section leads to several new regions including the Cave of the Oracle, the Pale Realm, the Jabberwock's Lair, and the Majestic Maze. The Cave of the Oracle is home to a wise entity that is revealed later to be the Caterpillar.

The Pale Realm makes a transition to the surface of a chessboard, as delving further into this area leads to the White Castle of Looking Glass Land, which is home to life-size chess pieces; the White pieces join Alice in the fight against the Red pieces, a deviation from her normally unhelpful "allies" from earlier portions of the game. Alice is twice transformed into a chess piece herself to pass certain obstacles.

Following this is a distorted version of Rutledge Asylum (where Alice has been incarcerated since her parents' tragic deaths). It is run by Tweedledum and Tweedledee and also houses the Mad Hatter's laboratory.

The path to the Jabberwock's Lair leads into the Land of Fire and Brimstone, a volcanic region of Wonderland and a reminder of the fire in which her family died. It is here that the terrible Jabberwock—a semi-mechanized servant of the Queen of Hearts and the incarnation of Alice's guilt—resides, in the remains of Alice's old home.

The Majestic Maze ends on the road to Queen of Hearts Land, a region heavily guarded by card guards, boojums, and other members of the Queen of Hearts' personal army.

Queensland is the final province of Wonderland. In it lies the Heart Palace from which the Queen of Hearts commands. Tentacles and other repulsive appendages are seen protruding from every organic wall in this area, and numerous areas even resemble body parts, giving the impression that Alice is travelling through her own body.


The game's characters are generally based on the inhabitants of Lewis Carroll's original novels, but they do not demonstrate the same identities. Many of them are warped incarnations of their conventional selves. The casebook[3] of Heironymous Q. Wilson (a supplement included with the game and written from the point of view of Alice's doctor) suggests that many of the characters Alice encounters in Wonderland are symbolic of real life people who get through to the catatonic Alice in some way. Other characters within the game are metaphors for Alice's own feelings, and because she is unhappy, they have become twisted. Some people (Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit) help her; others (Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts) try to cause pain, first by taking away those she loves and then by taking her down with them.


After leaving id Software, Creative Director American McGee was inspired to design a game that did not involve space marines, guns, aliens and outer space, which were the common themes in the Doom and Quake series.[4] McGee also stated that listening to songs like the remixed version of The Crystal Method's "Trip Like I Do" (sampled from The Dark Crystal) and Rob Zombie's "Living Dead Girl" helped to further inject tone into the story and characters as the idea formed.[5]

Electronic Arts licensed Ritual Entertainment's Heavy Metal: F.A.K.K.² engine, which is in turn a modified Quake III Arena engine. The most notable changes in the engine include the use of the Tiki model system, which enables the engine to use skeletal animation among other things, the Babble dialog system which enables lip synching of audio with character animations, dynamic music system, scriptable camera, particle system and extended shader support.[6] The changes implemented to the engine for Alice remained minimal however. The game's .bsp files even retain F.A.K.K.²'s headers, albeit sporting a different version number.

An early version of the game featured the ability to summon the Cheshire Cat to aid the player in battle. Though this feature was removed from the final product, beta screenshots of this version do exist online. In the final product, the player can press a button to summon the Cheshire Cat at any time, though he merely provides cryptic advice on the current situation, and does nothing to aid Alice if she is being attacked. An Alice port for the then-unreleased PlayStation 2 was also in development but was later cancelled, which caused Rogue Entertainment to shut down, another decision which angered American McGee and resulted him leaving EA "in frustration."[5] The game's retail release was also noticeably less gory than the demo that had been released earlier.

The game's box art was altered after release to show Alice holding the Ice Wand instead of the Vorpal Blade, and to reduce the skeletal character of the Cheshire Cat's anatomy. EA cited complaints from various consumer groups as its reason for altering the original art, though McGee stated the alteration was made due to internal concerns at EA.[7] A third version of the box art has Alice holding the Cards in her hands instead of a knife or wand.

Alice was EA's first M-rated game,[8] which McGee fought to obtain it because he did not want an Alice product to be sold in Christmas and confused parents thinking it was for their kids. However, in a 2009 interview, McGee regretted the decision because he felt the violence in the game did not warrant for an M-rating and that consumers should buy their products responsibly and to refer to the ESRB beforehand.[9]

Alice has grown in value and become a collector's item since its release, with new copies selling for $100–200 on auction sites[10] and used copies selling for close to $100. The game is prized in the order of its release artwork with the Vorpal Blade version being valued, followed closely by the Ice Wand release and, finally, the comparatively innocuous Hand of Cards version.

In 2010, a real-world replica of the fabled Vorpal Blade was released to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the game.


All of the music created for the official American McGee's Alice soundtrack was written and performed by Chris Vrenna with the help of guitarist Mark Blasquez and singer Jessicka.[11] Most of the sounds he used were created using toy instruments and percussion, music boxes (in a short documentary about the making of the game that appeared on TechTV, the music box used appears to be an antique Fisher-Price music box pocket radio), clocks, doors, and sampled female voices were manipulated into nightmarish soundscapes, including instances of them laughing maniacally, screaming, crying, and singing in an eerie, childlike way.

The music lends an eerie and horrifying feeling to the world Alice is in. The Pale Realm theme, as well as the track "I'm Not Edible", features the melody of the chorus of a popular children's song, "My Grandfather's Clock". In addition, there are many instances of the ticking and chiming of clocks being used as a musical accompaniment.

Marilyn Manson was originally involved scoring the music for the game.[12] His composition has been described by American McGee as "very cool" and having "a very beautiful Beatles-in-their-harpsichord-and-Hookah-pipe-days-sound to it." Manson's contributions persisted into the final product, notably the influence of alchemy and the character of the Mad Hatter whose adaptation was somewhat influenced by him; for a time Manson was considered for the voice of the Hatter.[13]

American McGee's Alice Original Music Score was released on October 16, 2001 by Six Degrees Records. It features all twenty original compositions by former Nine Inch Nails live drummer and studio collaborator Chris Vrenna with vocals done by Jessicka Addams of Jack Off Jill and Scarling.. It includes a previously unreleased theme as well as a remix of "Flying on the Wings of Steam".

Related media

Film adaptation

In December 2000, director Wes Craven signed on to develop a film adaptation of the game, with screenwriter John August hired to adapt the game for the big screen. American McGee had begun negotiations with Dimension Films 10 months before, with the studio committing to the project before Craven's signing.[14] In September 2001, August explained that he had turned in a script treatment for Alice and was not attached to develop fuller drafts for the film adaptation.[15] In February 2002, Dimension Films signed brother screenwriters Jon and Erich Hoeber to write the screenplay for Alice.[16] In July 2003, the brothers announced that they had completed the script for the film adaptation.[17]

In 2004, the project moved from Dimension Films to 20th Century Fox, but in 2005 wikipedia:Universal PicturesUniversal Pictures acquired the rights. As of June 2008, producer Scott Faye indicated the film was in "turnaround" from Universal. He admitted that the script needed development, but would be used to attract the attention of a new studio.[18] At one point the film rights were reported to have been owned by Sarah Michelle Gellar, a self-confessed fan of the game, who noted in 2008 that she's "not giving up" on the film,[19] but a few months later she was reported to have left the project.[20]

In 2013, with the success of earning the funds to produce Alice: Otherlands, McGee stated his desire to continue to work on the possibility of adapting the series into a feature film on Kickstarter.[21][22] On February 17, 2014, McGee announced that he and his team have secured a British screenwriter to write the film's script.[23] On April 16, 2014, he assured fans that the film is still in production and is currently working with a producer in Hollywood who they have licensed the rights from, but has run into a few difficulties along the way.[24]

On July 10, 2014, McGee informed fans that the progress on the feature film has come to a temporary halt. McGee stated that he has secured the rights only to develop the feature film's story and production, and must acquire the film rights completely before proceeding further. He is currently speaking with potential investors and financiers to gather the required funding, $400,000.[25] On January 8, 2015, McGee stated that negotiations for the feature film have gone on a hiatus, and will not resume until May.[26]

Animated short films

In June 2013, American McGee was given the opportunity to buy back the film rights which were originally sold several years prior. Through Kickstarter, McGee managed to fund the cost of the film rights ($100,000) and another $100,000 for the production of the shorts. In August, the project was successfully funded with an extra $50,000 (used to fund the voice acting of Susie Brann and Roger L. Jackson).[21][27][28] The project has been titled Alice: Otherlands.


Main article: Alice: Madness Returns

As the plans for the movie adaptation of American McGee's Alice started to take longer and longer, in 2007 interest at Electronic Arts rose in a remake of the game and work was started on a sequel.[29] On 19 February 2009, EA CEO John Riccitiello announced at D.I.C.E. 2009 that a new installment to the series is in the works for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.[30][31]

It was developed by Spicy Horse, who recently worked on American McGee's Grimm.[32][33][34] Two pieces of concept art were also released, depicting Alice and large allied birds fighting an oversized, semi-mechanized snail and its children on top of a lighthouse,[35] and Alice swimming in a pond, with the Cheshire Cat's face in the background.[36]

In November 2009, a fan-made video based on the Alice 2 announcement was mistaken by gaming websites as a teaser trailer for the game. In it, Alice is in therapy after a relapse nine months after the events of the first game, and appears to hallucinate an image of the Cheshire Cat in place of her doctor.[37]

On 15 June 2010, EA filed a trademark on the name Alice: Madness Returns, the suspected sequel to American McGee's Alice.[38] While the sequel was formally announced via press release on 19 February 2009,[33] the sequel's title was confirmed during the EA Studio Showcase the following day.

The game was finally released on June 14, 2011, in North America, June 16, 2011, in Europe and June 17, 2011, in the United Kingdom under the title Alice: Madness Returns for PC, MAC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions came with a redemption code that gave the player a free download of American McGee's Alice from each console's online store.


  1. Lopez, Vincent (2000-12-05). "American McGee's Alice". IGN. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  2. New York Times
  3. GameFAQs: American McGee's Alice (PC) FAQ/Walkthrough by Lsnake,chapter 7
  4. Lapord, Leo. "The Screen Savers - Leo's Interview with American McGee". YouTube. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
  5. 5.0 5.1 McGee, American (2011). The Art of Alice: Madness Returns. Milwaukee, OR: Dark Horse Comics. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-59582-697-8.
  6. "UberTools for Quake III v4.0". Ritual Entertainment. Archived from the original on 23 June 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  7. Alice and moral panics?
  8. Chris Kohler (2010-07-26). "Q&A: American McGee Returns to Alice's Nightmare Wonderland". Wired. Archived from the original on 28 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
  9. Halpin, Spencer. "Spencer Halpin's Moral Kombat". Spencer Halpin's Moral Kombat. Cinetic Rights Management. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
  11. Chris Vrenna American McGees Alice MP3Download
  12. "Dramatic New Scenes for Celebritarian Needs (archived by". MansonUSA (now defunct). 2005-11-03. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
  13. Manson on American McGee's Alice
  14. Brian Linder (2000-12-07). "Wes Craven to Dark Wonderland". Archived from the original on October 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  15. Brian Linder (2001-09-25). "August Talks Alice". IGN. Archived from the original on 6 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  16. Brian Linder (2002-02-11). "Scribes Pegged for Alice Game-to-Film Adaptation". IGN. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  17. Brian Linder (2003-07-29). "Games-to-Film Update: Alice, Oz". IGN. Archived from the original on December 7, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  18. "Status of American McGee's Alice".
  19. "Gellar Passionate About Alice". 2008-01-28. Archived from the original on 2012-03-11.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Alice: Otherlands".
  22. "A Night at the Opera".
  23. "Progress and Possibilities".
  24. "Eyeballs, Tentacles, and Monsters".
  25. "Noble Pursuits".
  26. "Happy New Year 2015!".
  27. "They're Back...".
  28. "Stretch Goooooal!".
  29. Martijn Müller. "Remake American McGee's Alice in de maak" (in Dutch). NG-Gamer. Archived from the original on 2008-02-08. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  30. Crecente, Brian (2009-02-19). "EA Announces New American McGee's Alice Title". Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  31. "The Return of American McGee's Alice Set For PC, Consoles". 2009-02-19. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
  32. "DICE 2009: EA announces American McGee's Alice 2". Joystiq. 2009-02-19. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  33. 33.0 33.1 "EA and Spicy Horse Return to Wonderland for All-New Alice Title". 2009-02-19. Archived from the original on 27 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  34. Chester, Nick (2009-02-19). "Sequel to American McGee's Alice coming to PC, consoles in 2009". Destructoid. Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
  35. "The Return of Alice". 2009-02-20. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  36. "Hiring – Three for Art". 2009-05-04. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  37. "Return of Alice (Video Madness)". 2009-11-04. Archived from the original on 2009-11-15.
  38. "Latest Status Info". 2010-06-20. Archived from the original on 22 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-20.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Through the Looking-Glass - "The Hunting of the Snark"
Alice - White Rabbit - Dodo - Bill the Lizard - Caterpillar - Duchess - Cheshire Cat - March Hare - Hatter - Dormouse - Queen of Hearts
King of Hearts - Knave of Hearts - Gryphon - Mock Turtle - Red Queen - White Queen - Red King - White King - White Knight
Tweedledum and Tweedledee - Sheep - Humpty Dumpty - The Lion and the Unicorn - Bandersnatch - Jubjub bird
Wonderland - Looking-glass world
Related topics
The Annotated Alice - Mischmasch - Works based on Alice in Wonderland (Films and television - Disney franchise)
Translations of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Translations of Through the Looking-Glass
1903 - 1910 - 1915 - 1931 - 1933 - 1949 - 1951 - 1966 - 1972 - 1976 - 1982 - 1985 - 1987 - 1988 (Czechoslovak) - 1988 (Australian)
1995 - 1999 - 2010
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (ballet) - Alice in Wonderland (musical) - Alice in Wonderland (opera)
But Never Jam Today (Carroll musical) - Wonderland (Wildhorn musical) - Peter and Alice (2013 play) - (Albarn musical)
Fushigi no Kuni no Alice - Once Upon a Time in Wonderland
"All in the golden afternoon..." - "How Doth the Little Crocodile" - "The Mouse's Tale" - "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat"
"You Are Old, Father William" - "'Tis the Voice of the Lobster" - "Jabberwocky" - "The Walrus and the Carpenter" - "Haddocks' Eyes"
"The Mock Turtle's Song" - "The Hunting of the Snark"
A New Alice in the Old Wonderland (1895) - New Adventures of Alice (1917) - Alice of Wonderland in Paris (1966)
Alice Through the Needle's Eye (1984) - Automated Alice (1996) - Wonderland Revisited and the Games Alice Played There (2009)
The Nursery "Alice" (1890) - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland retold in words of one syllable (1905)
Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland (2010)
The Westminster Alice (1902) - Clara in Blunderland (1902) - Lost in Blunderland (1903)
John Bull's Adventures in the Fiscal Wonderland (1904) - Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream (1904)
Davy and the Goblin (1884) - The Admiral's Caravan (1891) - Gladys in Grammarland (1896) - A New Wonderland (1898)
Rollo in Emblemland (1902) - Justnowland (1912) - Alice in Orchestralia (1925)
Alice in Wonderland or What's a Nice Kid Like You Doing in a Place Like This? (1966) - Alice or the Last Escapade (1977) - Dreamchild (1985)
Adventures in Wonderland (1991) - The Looking Glass Wars (2006) - Alice (2009) - Malice in Wonderland (2009)
Alice in Wonderland (2010) - Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)
Alice in Murderland - Alice in the Country of Hearts - Miyuki-chan in Wonderland
Video games
Alice no Paint Adventure (1995) - Alice in Wonderland (2000) - American McGee's Alice (2000) - Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Alice: Madness Returns (2011)