Even if you've never heard of American McGee, you'll remember him now from the unusual name (His famous explanation: "My mom smoked pot. She was a hippie. I'm not sure how else to put that"). But it's more likely that you've played one of the games he's helped create: Doom II, Quake, American McGee's Alice, or Scrapland. His latest, Bad Day LA, puts players in the middle of Los Angeles on the worst day ever, with simultaneous disasters breaking out around the city. But instead of being a beefy-hero-saves-the-world shooter, there's a strong satirical undercurrent and some charged political commentary wrapped in a veil of comedy. Once we tried the game for ourselves (you can too, as the PC demo will soon be released to everyone), we cornered McGee to pick his pleasantly opinionated brain on what makes Bad Day LA so good.
GR: Bad Day LA is said to have a comedic yet still political slant to it. Is there anything you'd like to talk about specifically?
AM: Is said to have? It does. A very slanted slant, in fact. Specifically, Bad Day LA is probably the world's first politically motivated major game. It probably qualifies as the world's biggest casual game, as we did a lot to keep the gameplay simple.
GR: Bad Day LA has a much rougher sense of humor than your previous games. What happened to you since the release of Scrapland to cause this?
AM: The game is my commentary on American "fear culture" as it has existed in the US since the events of 9/11. While terrorist attacks, natural disasters and governments that use fear to manipulate their populations are not laughing matters, I felt that the best way to get my message across was through the use of humor. As television programs like The Daily Show have proven, if you can't change the f'd up state of the world, you should at least be able to laugh at it.