I carved out a Shares category for this website in an effort to spread the word on people and work I believe in. It’s fitting, then, that we’ve arrived at Killscreen, whose work it is to spread the word about videogames in a way which meaningfully bridges them to the rest of culture. The quality and consistency of Killscreen’s writing is staggering—and appropriately so, I think, as games criticism has long needed a shift in poise, a critical eye as keen on the activity beyond the microscope as beneath it. Games are already the intersection of countless cultural forms and cultures themselves, and it’s time their criticism reflected this.
But if intent were all that made Killscreen valuable, I would not be writing about them now. No, it’s the words themselves – as always – which carry the value, and to my eye, the site has been producing simply invaluable work. Not only will you find, for example, Kentucky Route Zero through the looking glass of filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu’s relish for quietude – that cultural intersect I mentioned – but also revisitations, tuned historically or otherwise; reviews which are implicated in greater stylistic concerns than, sometimes, the games brandishing them; and pieces which work, in part, to turn the lens (or screen) back on ourselves.
The fact these are all recent examples of Killscreen’s output, and thus input, is a testament to the hive of creativity, inspection and introspection site founder Jamin Warren has mobilized, here. The love and hard work he and his staff show in maintaining the quality they do approaches overwhelming; each visit is, for a writer like myself, a reliably humbling experience. But it’s exhilarating to have such a bar set for this space, and it is one which Warren and his team are nonetheless hoping to raise.
Yesterday saw the launch of the company’s Kickstarter campaign for a new-and-improved print edition of the magazine. There have been nine issues printed previously (numbering Zero to Eight), and this was done on a crowd-funded $6,000; with the revamp, the site is asking for the much more substantial sum of $68,000—of which, at the time of this writing, $32,306 has been raised.
Should the campaign meet its goal, the relaunched edition will feature “full-color portraits of the creators […], reported features, visual essays, and rigorously researched, long-form criticism” as well as “international embedded reporting.” The magazine has an in-house professional photographer on-board for the relaunch, a full writing staff, multiple dedicated editors, and aims to release on a quarterly schedule – again, pending the results of this campaign.
Killscreen has been likened to a “McSweeney’s of interactive media”, called “gaming’s classiest magazine”, and attracts frequent comparison to such mainstream publications as The New York Times. The magazine’s restrained, checkered-flag palette certainly gives this impression, as does – more importantly – the quality of its prose and overall production.
If you love games and believe it’s time they reached a greater discourse, help build the momentum Killscreen has already begun by contributing to their cause. This is the first Kickstarter I’ve pledged towards, and I couldn’t have picked a better starting line.
Video and photos credit: Killscreen