The Culling is a unique game.
It was developed by Xaviant and it was released for early access in March 04, 2016.
Is it a Game?
Unlike many Battle Royal games with similar attributes (like crafting), The Culling has a close combat fighting style. Unlike games like H1Z1 King of the Kill, where the game play depends solely on gunfire combat with little bits of crafting, The Culling has a game currency system (F.U.N.C), particular perks, and air drops with weapons.
The Culling itself is a lot like The Hunger Games where you can call packages that give you weapons or tools that can shape how you battle. Also there are teams in The Culling, however there is no dramatic final fight against your partner, when you win together the victory is shared and so are the rewards. The Culling sets place in an island where there is no place to escape.
“A game is a rule-based system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels emotionally attached to the outcome and the consequences of the activity are negotiable” -Jasper Juul
According to the quote above, The Culling fits into Jasper Juul’s definition of what a game is. For example The Culling fits the six game features that Jasper Juul mentions in Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds.
- Rules: For the game to end and have a winner, players must kill each other at any cost. They must attack each other, whether with a weapon or their fists. If they refuse to and decide to hide on the outskirt of the island, Acid fog comes in phases to kill those who do not participate.
- Variable: Winning and losing. You die and it has a negative connotation, you win and it had a positive connotation.
- Valorization of outcome: Winning the game and being the last one (or team) standing, gives the players more value than when they lose
- Player Effort: The players have to decide what they use their F.U.N.C. for, whether they decide to save it for a better weapon or use it immediately to craft a weapon. Those who invest their time in strategizing on using their F.U.N.C. are the ones who win games
- Player attached to outcome: Player wins and gets the satisfaction of surviving the massacre even if they killed nobody the whole game and killed the last person.
- Negotiable consequences: Tournaments exists that enable players to win money.
Is it Art?
The Culling is art because it is an experience tailored by the developers in the same way an art piece has an underlying meaning behind it put there by the artist, although some art has no meaning and that’s the point in this case, The Culling is the type of art with a specific message.
In Playing Politics in Understanding Machinima As Live performance and Document Joseph DeLappe says “There were multiple instances of slippage between my physical being and my virtual presence”(p. 156). This quote relates to The Culling because just like the game Second Life, we are meant to see ourselves inside this world where we are put to fight each other to the death, and see from the perspective of our avatars just as if they were ourselves. By playing this game in such a way that the developers wanted and by association putting ourselves into this dark world we are seeing the message of the game. A message that speaks of a world that is not too different from our own with a few less morals, of a world that has people getting enjoyment from seeing others suffer and fight for their own freedom. In a sense, it calls back to when gladiators used to fight in the Colosseum. They fought in a similar situation, the only thing that has changed between that and this game is the setting and time. Perhaps the message the game is trying to get across is that we live in a world that is not too far off from the future and this reality. It has already happened in the past, there just needs to be the right circumstances and we can have the world we are playing in.
Perception of Rules as Art:
In The Definition of Play and The Classification of Games by Roger Caillois, he states that “rules are inseparable from play as soon as the latter becomes institutionalized. From this moment on they become part of its nature”(p. 141). The idea of rules in a game like The Culling does not make sense since it’s a game that is portraying a darker reality where there are no rules during battling, however because there are, it helps to ground the player into the world and helps them dive into something that is not reality. Most people live their lives following rules, whether it be laws or rules of conduct, most people are grounded by rules and expect them to be there, even in a world where you are forced to kill other people for entertainment. If The Culling were to have no rules in regards to fighting and coordinating, then this would be a deterrent. There needs to be rules to the game because without rules there is no game, but also without rules the player would fail to immerse themselves in such a reality because it would be harder to imagine themselves in it. Rules aid in immersion and in getting the games message across.
In The Culling’s case the message only adds on to the fuel of what makes the game so great. Since we are immersed in this world we become self-aware of how close this type of reality is to our own but it’s just different enough to hold our interests. As a result of that, we want to explore and learn more about this world, and learn how this type of organization was created. Essentially The Culling gives us the tools to reach out and learn more information. Likewise it lets us see our own world in a different way because of the immersion we had in the virtual one, and just like art, the game changes our perception of things.
Roger Caillois. (2006 ). “The Definition of Play and The Classification of Games” in Game Design Reader. Edited by K. Salen and E. Zimmerman: pp. 122-155.
Jesper Juul. (2005). “Video Games and the Classic Game Model” in Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge: MIT Press: pp. 23-54.
Joseph DeLappe. (2013). “Playing Politics: Machinima as Live Performance and Document.” In Understanding Machinima: Essays on Filmmaking in Virtual Worlds, edited by J. Ng. Bloomsbury Academic.