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Being A Shopkeeper Is The Hottest Job In Steam's Version Of The Hunger Games

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The Culling is a Steam hit that’s essentially Hunger Games: The Video Game. Set loose in a massive environment with nothing but the clothes on your back, your goal is to be the last person standing. So of course, players have invented a 100 percent non-violent role.

Yep, in a round-based competitive game of life, death, and the occasional fragile alliance, players have started peacefully dealing weapons and items. They find a counter, lay out a bunch of items, and pray that people will take the hint (the hint being, “please don’t kill me”). Of course, it doesn’t always start out peaceful, as demonstrated in this video by Ace Conklin:

So yeah, it’s easy for the process to break down. In a game about killing, why wouldn’t you drive a spear through the belly of somebody who walks up to you unarmed, flashing the shit-eating-est of grins? At best, they’re an easy mark. At worst, it’s some kind of trap, and you don’t want to fall for it.


Slowly but surely, though, etiquette is evolving for this player-created process. It might be tempting to swipe a bunch of items and leave your friendly neighborhood shopkeeper in a pool of his own friendly neighborhood blood, but it’s a dick move. So Culling players have invented another role: shopkeeper bodyguards. Take, for instance, this story by MrWhiskers64:

“I was Shopkeep Sammy and my friend was Shopkeep Pete whoever spawned closer to shop would set up snares and make bandages while the one farthest would scavenge buildings on his way over. Our first days on the job were far from easy. We kept getting killed or people tried to kill us, this went on for a few workdays until we got our first peaceful customers who only browsed. alas they did not last long as when they left they were killed immediately and then we were killed off as well.”

“But then we get into to new day and we checked the scoreboard for any fellow salesmen when we see two legends: CAN’T STUMP and THE TRUMP we thought it was already over because there is no way we can beat them with names like those but we set up shop anyway as there is no rest for a shopkeep.”

“At about 10 minutes into the job 4 people came in and we all got into a fight sadly I did not make it but my partner did it was quiet then and he was losing hope until new people showed up. At first they shot at us through the window with a bow until they saw that Pete was a shopkeep. They had traded a Kukri and a Satchel for a Backpack and a Javelin they left then, Pete was ecstatic as he soon saw their names to be CAN’T STUMP and THE TRUMP it was glorious to have such legendary customers.”

“Pete still stood in the shop making Bandages, Crafted explosives and Armor when he felt it was safe. Soon after they returned with more items, a Bowie knife, Crafted explosives and Brass knuckles and in return they got 2 Bandages and Armor, then the unexpected happened. They stood guard at the entrance. They were no longer customers they had transcended to security.”


And then there’s this touching tale from NapkinSketcher:

“You came into my shop as I was being assault by a chainsaw wielding maniac and slaughtered the inconsiderate jerk. I hit you with a blowgun dart and the empty blowgun during the fight and before I realized you weren’t going to hurt me. I’m sorry.”

“The time came... the gas moved in. You took up my wares and made your way to the arena, but you weren’t alone. Back in the shadows and brush, I crafted. Bandages, I knew if you needed me I would need to be at my best. That wasn’t all, however. An abandoned airdrop call, a little ways within the gas. I risked it. For you.”

“I ran, I choked, I coughed up a lung, but I obtained the gifts inside and returned to the arena to be by your side should the time come. There we were, just three. You engaged in your final battle and while it went well for sometime it began to look a little rough. I couldn’t stand by any longer. Taking hold of the SMG, a gift to us from the gods, left alone in the abandoned Airdrop, I set forth, charging your attacker, firing madly for their attention, for their blood.”

“He dropped. There was two. I cheered, I jumped, my savior we were nearly there! But, one of us must still fall and it was my turn to finalize our roles in this game.”

With a final glance at you, I set off, into the gas, head held high. This day was ours... this day was yours.



Some players, though, feel like The Culling is starting to become a little too friendly to shopkeepers. “OK, the shopkeeper is cool and all,” wrote The_guy_you_all_love on Reddit, “but three rounds in a row I have seen up to three or five players all teaming up and protecting a shopkeeper. This is The Culling we are playing to kill not to protect a made up shop. I wouldn’t have an issue, but every time they expect me to join their shop and not kill them. That’s not why I play this game.”


Still, it’s pretty cool to see an entire economic ecosystem evolve like this, especially in a game that typically encourages ruthlessness and betrayal. I wonder what will happen next. Corporate overlords for shopkeepers, perhaps? A union to combat that? Maybe The Culling will just become EVE Online. Wouldn’t that be fun?

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