July 10th, 2008

I’ve been meaning to play American McGee’s Alice for years. Now that I’ve started, it’s stirring up all my academic urges (the thesis I wrote last year was on young girls sexualized in literature). Analyze, Bonnie, analyze!

First off, I’ll admit, the experience of playing Alice isn’t as enthralling as I’d hoped. That’s due largely to the fact that I suck at precision platforming (and at fighting with a mouse, apparently), so instead of enjoying the macabre scenery and the bizarre twists on Lewis Carroll’s “classic tale” I’m busy missing rope swings and falling into the abyss.

That said, the concepts behind Alice score 100% on the awesome scale (very official, I know). Alice in Wonderland has always been dark for a children’s story, and the American McGee version brings that juxtaposition of innocence and strangeness to the surface. Here we have a youthful but grown Alice who’s caused the death of her parents, ended up in an asylum, and slit her wrists. We know this character from our own childhoods, and yet we don’t.

Also commendable is the semi-sexual appeal of this older, sadder Alice. Carroll himself had a questionable relationship with Alice Liddell, the girl he fashioned his main character on–and there’s something arguable charged in the mere act of traveling “down the rabbit hole” inside Alice’s mind–and by her extension her body. Once again we’re back inside Alice, this new Alice who’s deranged mental state is corrupting Wonderland, penetrating her in multiple senses.

Tags: children, old games

6 Responses to “Down, Down into Another Girl’s Mind”

  1. The Guy Says:

    Why is it then everyone assumes Lewis Carroll was a drug-abusing pedophile because of what he wrote? He was a christian mathematician who hung out with his best friend and told his children (Alice among them) stories for fun.

  2. That Fuzzy Bastard Says:

    Alice is the major reason why I’m still on the fence about Grimm. McGee has a long history of coming up with great ideas for games, gussying them up with nifty design, and then completely dropping the ball on the mechanics. Alice could have been so great, but the unforgiving platforming, plodding movement, and dreadful shooting made it just not worth wading through for me.

  3. John H. Says:

    I have to agree with The Guy on the Carroll-pedophile thing. It’s become fashionable to try to find sexual elements in anything an author ever wrote or did. It’s not to say there weren’t, but it’s also not to say that there were.

    In any case, I actually loathe the concept of Alice-the-game, I’m sorry to say. Way too revisionist and gothy for me.

  4. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I’m glad someone agrees with me that Alice is a great concept, but the gameplay is a pain. I actually love the revisionist, goth, sexual twist. I just wish it was more fun to play!

  5. GeorgeR Says:

    if you haven’t beaten the game yet I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about some of the later items.

  6. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I’m getting there. I’ve just got to live through all the times Alice moans when I kill her because I suck at platforming!

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