Save The Robot

The website of freelance writer Chris Dahlen

I write scripts for videogames, including Klei's acclaimed Mark of the Ninja.

I cover music, gaming, technology, and pop. Maybe you've seen me at Pitchfork, The Onion AV Club, Variety, Edge Magazine, Suicide Girls, Paste, or any number of alt-weeklies.

I'm also the former editor-in-chief and co-founder of the gaming journal Kill Screen.

This page lists my best stuff: reviews, interviews, features, and appearances. It doesn't change too often. To see what I'm up to right this minute, look for me on Twitter or my blog.

Or e-mail me at: chris at savetherobot dot com



 
 

Game Development

Mark of the Ninja
(2012, Klei Entertainment and Microsoft)
Writer. I wrote the script and the collectible haiku, and contributed to the story; you can read excerpts here. I also wrote promotional materials including the Undum-powered teaser site: play part one and part two.



Carmen Sandiego for Facebook
(2011, Blue Fang Games and the Learning Company)
Writer. I researched and wrote most of the game's 3,300 location clues. Here's a selection. Can you guess them all? To read more about the writing process, check out our interview at The Atlantic.



PixelVixen707
(2008 - 2009, Smith and Tinker)
Contributed to the transmedia experience for the novel Personal Effects: Dark Arts by J.C. Hutchins and Jordan Weisman, ghostwriting the pixelvixen707.com blog and a column at Suicide Girls, and designing and running the "Lost Coin-Op" ARG. Read more about the project at the Washington Post, or contact me for samples.



Fiction

My L'il Zombie
Comic story first published in Zombie Bomb #3. Illustrated by Robert Squier.


We Are Ted Tuscadero for President
Text and podcast first published at Escape Pod, election day 2010.



Reviews

The Beatles: Rock Band

TV on the Radio, Dear Science

Subtle, exitingARM

Andy Partridge, Fuzzy Warbles Box Set

Patti Smith, Horses Reissue

Fallout 3

Spore

Fatale

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!!



Books

I contributed to the Onion AV Club's Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by Saxophone, and 100 More Obsessively Specific Pop-Culture Lists, Scribner, 2009.

I contributed to and deputy edited The Pitchfork 500, Fireside Press, 2008.

My Week on the Avril Lavigne eTeam was reprinted in The Rock History Reader, ed. Theo Cateforis.

The Chumbawamba Factor was selected as a "Notable Essay" in Da Capo Best Music Writing 2006.



Radio and Appearances

I've spoken at GDC Online in Austin, PAX East, and the Future of Music Coalition Summit.

In 2014 I spoke at GDC about romance, teamwork and rivalry.

In April 2011, the inimitable Michael Abbott invited me to speak at Wabash College about games and writing.

Listen to me on KCRW's The Business talking about movie people who try to make games, on WNYC's Soundcheck, talking about politics and Halo 3, and on CBC's Day 6, arguing that videogames are art .

I moderated a dream panel on music discovery and music recommendation for the Boston Music Hackday in October 2009.


 

Features and Commentary

My Purple-haired Made-Up Best Friend and Why She Had To Die (Kill Screen)
Before I tell you this story, I should introduce Rachael Webster. The trouble is, Iím not sure how to do that. Was she a friend of mine? Sure. A great friend. We spent nine months together as tight as Siamese twins. But she wasnít family, and I never really met her in person. I could say she didnít exist, but thatís a copout: she obviously existed, and had a life, and friends, and a career, at least until her budget ran out and I had to write her out of this world.


The Great Big Puzzle Box of Sen's Fortress (Kotaku)
In Dark Souls, the difficulty isn't a club the designers bash you with, but the palette with which they paint the experience.


Love and Robots in Death and the Powers: The Robots' Opera
In Death and the Powers, Tod Machover didn't set out to make a show where robots whizzed around beside the actors; instead, the robots act like humans, and the humans vanish into the technology. (The Boston Phoenix)


Nobody Gets Booed Down Here
So what's the music scene like in Antarctica? (Pitchfork)



Interviews

Sir Paul McCartney
I read something recently, it was just talking about trees and what they do as machines. The fact that they pump up these thousands of gallons of water, without anything we would recognize as a machine. It's just a nature machine, it's just a green machine. And the trees then convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. And we go, "Yeah, it's just a tree." But Jesus Christ, you try and do that! (Pitchforkmedia.com)


Daryl Hall
I love the fact that the record companies are all going down. This is a personal triumph for me. I beat the record companies. Sony Music may go out of business, but I'm not going out of business. (Pitchfork)


Doseone
I'm done with this "I Me Me I" breakup song, potency-of-one-person thing. I don't find it timeless. I find it perfect for certain moods, and they're moods I'm in less often the older I get. Now I have a deep desire to be involved, and for meaning and permanence, and I really want something that hits me again. Something that occurs in my life and I'm like, "Oh, that's why Buckminster Fuller says they should grow rice in China." Things that stick to the ribs. (Pitchfork)


TV on the Radio's David Sitek
We're not trying to sway anybody's beliefs. We're just trying to get people to examine their own opinion about that subject. And it's very hard to do that. It's very hard to leave it open-ended, like, "What do you feel about global warming?" If we say, "Stop burning the fucking children," it's like, if they don't have children, you've eliminated them completely. (Pitchfork)


Who likes Battlestar Galactica? Apparently I do. Check out my interviews with Ronald D. Moore , James Callis and a rare and fascinating conversation with Michael Hogan. (Onion AV Club)


David Byrne
There's still a feeling that uncensored emotions make a good song. They don't. Pure emotion is just somebody screaming at you, or crying. It doesn't communicate anything. It has to be mediated with some skill and craft, in order to communicate it to a second, a third, or a fourth person. That doesn't make it any less real. And it doesn't make it any less true. (Pitchfork)


David Sylvian
The guru acts as a provocation more often than not. Initially it's a seductive, romantic relationship, and when you're in the fold, it becomes provocative, it tests you. And I've never come across anything that is as pinpoint accurate as the message you get through the guru. You go through this process with other people who have common goals, you see them confronting their fears, the tests that they're put through, and you look at the manner in which they're tested and think, "I could handle that." But when the opportunity for you to learn from your fears comes along, it's like, "Jesus Christ, give me any other lesson you choose, but not that one." (Pitchfork)