Kill Screen

Kill Screen

Issue 9, the first redesigned Kill Screen issue after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Categories Video games
Year founded 2009 (2009)
First issue March 2010 (2010-03)
Company Kill Screen Media, Inc.
Country United States
Based in New York City
Language English
OCLC number 892699658

Kill Screen[1] (stylized as KILL SCREEN) is a print and online magazine founded in 2009 by Jamin Warren and Chris Dahlen and owned by Kill Screen Media, Inc. It focuses on video games and culture, but also includes articles based on entertainment. The name is based on the infamous video game term of the same name.

In 2009, both Warren and Dahlen were former writers for Pitchfork when they decided to found the magazine. After a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the magazine, the first issue was released on March 2010. After partnerships with Pitchfork, StoryCode and Film Society of Lincoln Center, the magazine eventually founded an annual video game conference, two5six, in 2013. The magazine's website did a redesign on January 2014 and the print magazine itself was redesigned and overhauled after a second successful Kickstarter campaign on November 2015. In 2016, two5six's name was changed to Kill Screen Festival.


Kill Screen is a print and online magazine that specializes in literary video games journalism. The magazine originally planned to publish think pieces rather than breaking news.[2] PSFK described the magazine's demographic as "25–34-year-old wealthy, urban, culturally elite males".[3]

The magazine's name is based on the video game term kill screen, a level of certain arcade games that deteriorates and causes the player's unfortunate death occasionally and is mostly caused by a programming error.[3] Some of the magazine's authors had previously written for The New Yorker, GQ, Los Angeles Times, The Onion and The Daily Show.


The magazine was founded by Jamin Warren and Chris Dahlen,[2] who both wrote for Pitchfork. In a discussion at the March 2009 Game Developers Conference, the two discussed the lack of "high-end, intellectual" magazines about video games and non-blog writers in the style of Tom Wolfe and Chuck Klosterman. Brophy-Warren and Dahlen decided to start Kill Screen.[3] They sought for the magazine to mirror what Rolling Stone and Wired established in their respective industries.[4] Anthony Smyrski of Swindle served as the magazine's creative director. The magazine was funded through Kickstarter from 14 September to 15 November 2009, with 160 backers pledging $5,949 over a $3,500 goal.[5]

The first issue, dubbed Issue 0, was released on March 2010. On April, Kill Screen updated the status quo on the second issue (Issue 1), stating that writers were available to write articles for Kill Screen.[6] On 21 May 2011, Pitchfork announced a partnership with Kill Screen to publish some of Kill Screen's articles on Pitchfork itself.[7] On 18 April 2012, Kill Screen partnered with StoryCode and the Film Society of Lincoln Center for Convergenece, a program that would lead to hackathon events like Story Hack: Beta, which ran from April 28 to 29.[8] On 13 May 2013, the two5six conference was founded and hosted at The Invisible Dog Art Center in Brooklyn, including speakers such as Tim Schafer for Double Fine, Zach Klein for Vimeo, Andy Hunter for Electric Literature, Robin Hunicke for Funomena and others.[9]

On 1 January 2014, the Kill Screen website was redesigned and relaunched, with Warren releasing an open letter about the website's redesign.[10] On 27 October 2015, a backers-only update announced an overhaul and redesign of the print magazine.[11] On 3 November, the redesign of the print magazine was unveiled[12] and was relaunched 2 days later.[13] It was funded through another Kickstarter project the same day and ran until 8 December 2015, garnering $77,471 from over 1,399 backers.[14]

On August 2016,[15] the magazine collaborated with Warby Parker to produce a limited-edition set of Glacier Grey "Burke" glasses with the Kill Screen trademark and logo, as well as Warby Parker releasing a browser game called Worbs.[16]


Kill Screen has received positive reviews overall, with many media outlets praising its writing, editorial team and overall layout and composition, while somewhat criticizing the overall cost of the subscription and single issues purchased individually and review policy.

The New Yorker praised Kill Screen for its intuitiveness and described it as "the McSweeney's of interactive media".[17] PSFK called Kill Screen a "novel and elegant twist on modern publishing" with the feel of Monocle and impressive design and writers, and compared it as "Rolling Stone was to rock'n'roll or what Wired was to tech".[3] Time compared the magazine to Salon, but for video games and rated it among the best magazines/blogs of 2011 and praised their review of L.A. Noire, stating that it could help legitimize the video games medium.[4] Ars Technica praised the game's layout and composition for it's price, stating that "the dives are deeper, the writing is thoughtful, and the presentation and custom art for each story makes the experience of reading these stories about our hobby a sensual experience."[18] Engadget stated the magazine as "to avoid the mechanical nitty-gritty that plagues game writing."[19]

However, for their review on Rise of the Tomb Raider, Kill Screen was largely polarized and pigeonholed, with game director Brian Horton openly criticizing the review of the game for being off-topic and mainly random in the comments.[20]


  1. Kevin Ohannessian (2013-05-08). ""Kill Screen" Looks To Foster Cross-Industry Collaboration Around Games With New Event". Fast Company. Retrieved 2015-09-05.
  2. 1 2
  3. 1 2 3 4
  4. 1 2,28804,2075431_2075447_2075602,00.html
  5. "VIDEOGAMES + MAGAZINE + ADULTS = KILL SCREEN". Kickstarter. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  6. Kyle, Orland (13 April 2010). "How to write for Kill Screen... or anyone, for that matter". The Game Beat. Retrieved 12 October 2016 via Kyle Orland.
  7. "Pitchfork Announces Partnership With Kill Screen". Pitchfork. 21 May 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  8. "FSLC Convergence Program Announces Collaboration with Storycode and Kill Screen". Film Society of Lincoln Center. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  9. "Twofivesix: A Video Game Arts + Culture Conference". Kill Screen. 11 May 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  10. Warren, Jamie (5 January 2015). "Welcome to the redesigned Kill Screen". Kill Screen. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  11. "You're the First to Hear - Kill Screen is Overhauling its Magazine". Kickstarter. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 12 October 2016. (subscription required (help)).
  12. Shin, Nara (3 November 2015). "Kill Screen Magazine Gets a Redesign". Cool Hunting. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  13. "Kill Screen, game culture periodical, relaunches". Boing Boing. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  14. "Help Kill Screen Their Magazine". Kickstarter. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  15. "Warby Parker x Kill Screen". WellDressedGeek. 23 August 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  16. "Warby Parker x Kill Screen". Warby Parker. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  18. Kuchera, Ben (9 August 2010). "Kill Screen justifies price of print; game writing grows up". Ars Technica. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  19. Gilbert, Ben (2 December 2009). "Kill Screen gaming mag aiming for highbrow readers". Engadget. Retrieved 14 October 2016 via AOL.
  20. "The Case of Lara C.: A Rise of the Tomb Raider Review - Kill Screen". Kill Screen. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 14 October 2016 via Kill Screen Media.

External links

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