American McGee part two

The renowned designer on the anti-gaming climate in the US, why Wii is the only true next gen console and the future of gaming

You may have already read part one of our interview with renowned games designer American McGee, in which the creator of Alice, Scrapland and latterly Bad Day LA talked about amongst other things, his newest PC project, the role of humour in gaming and challenges of creating good comedy.

So now, without further ado, it's on to part deux, where McGee dissects the current anti-gaming political climate in the US, discusses progress on his two film projects, Oz and Grimm and holds forth on why he thinks the Wii is the only true next generation console, how the publisher and developer relationship is broken and why he thinks the true future of gaming lies in MMOs, social gaming, mini-games, web games and episodic content.


Now read on...

Do you feel that, particularly in the US, there is a new Puritanism/neo-conservatism, which is unjustifiably leading to games being vilified? If so, how can the situation be improved?

Puritanism related to sexual issues is as rampant in the US as it's ever been. As for violence, the response is as usual, lopsided and nonsensical. We have US politicians wasting time on the non-issue of video game violence, while in the real world bombs are dropped, villages are flattened, and entire countries are being destroyed. I think the only way the situation will be improved is by the passage of time. Politicians are generally a geriatric, old lot. Hence their retarded views on the modern world. We just need to wait around a while and nature will do its thing. Current politicians die, new generation of politicians come into office. These new guys will focus on whatever happens to be the "entertainment is evil" topic of the day - probably direct-neural-stimu-pr0n. At least that's what I'm hoping for.

What is the latest on your Oz and Grimm projects? Is it true that you have sold the scripts for a trilogy of Oz films? Can you give us any insight into their subject matter? And are they likely to be given the game treatment at any time in the near future?

Oz was picked up by Bruckheimer Films and Disney. I just finished writing the script for the first Oz film and we're waiting for feedback. Can't say more than that at this time. As for Grimm, we'll be making a big announcement related to that project within the next month or two.

How is the Alice film progressing? Have you seen it, and are you happy with what you have seen? What was your involvement with the project?

The film seems to be moving along nicely. I've read the script and think it's great. So far I'm happy with everything I've seen, but you never know how these things will turn out until they are finished.

What is your take on the next-generation consoles? Will there be next-gen versions of Bad Day LA, and of future American McGee games?

The only truly next-gen console out there is the Wii. Everything else is just a video card and processor upgrade. I sense that Nintendo is going to capture the hearts of gamers while Microsoft and Sony stab each other in the neck for market domination. Nintendo is focused on innovation and games. The other guys are focused on making money.

What are your current feelings about the balance of power between developers and publishers?

I think it is pretty broken. For the past ten years developers have been slaves to the existing publisher model. It limits creativity and innovation and leads to SKU upon SKU of me-too games. Developers need to be empowered, they need to be the stars. Alternate distribution and finance models will help to fix the problem.

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