It's been some ten years since American McGee's Alice
, but the game's creators say their dark imagining of Lewis Carroll's fiction has become a significant part of the Alice mythos, even amid the numerous interpretations of that story.
In a new Gamasutra feature
, Spicy Horse's McGee and and R.J. Berg say they aren't worried about working with the Alice property in an era of Disney-dominance or addressing an audience who might have numerous prior. associations with the world of Wonderland.
"I think we were really lucky the first time around in being sensitive to the core study and main character," said McGee. "It rewarded us by coming out in the first game as a very clear branch of something that felt very natural to a lot of people who played it."
McGee says that approach brought admiration and attention from respected colleagues who said the original Alice
"was the most natural adaptation and extension of the story that they'd ever seen. I think that really was an extension of how we approached it, in not trying to force things too much."
Part of that came from the "dark nature" McGee sees as already inherent in the source material, Carroll's 1865 story of a little girl who flees home only to tumble down a hole into an illogical world where madness is the norm, and whose symbology is commonly believed to be related to drug culture.
"A lot of those elements were already there," says McGee, regarding his sinister version of Alice's universe. "We just picked them out and amplified them."
"I think when we see other people who are doing adaptation, be it the [Tim] Burton movie
or be it a play that someone's putting on, those can all live and be in their own way. I don't think it really intrudes upon what we've done." However, in the adaptation of Alice done by director Burton, who also favors dark and absurdist tones, McGee and Burg see quite a lot of similarity: "Of course, RJ and I, we've joked... [laughs] We never got our royalty checks from some of the stuff we saw in the film," he says.
"But this Alice that we did has taken on a life of its own. You see it in, for example, the tattoos fans have gotten -- people take hold of this not just as a game but as a version of Alice in Wonderland that's as vibrant as any that's ever existed," McGee adds. "We feel very lucky that we've managed to uncover this direction, and we're going to continue to be true to it."
The full interview with McGee and Berg, in which the pair discusses Spicy Horse's Shanghai home, the upcoming sequel -- and its new console destinations -- is now live on Gamasutra