It has been half a year since we have been mandated to quarantine in our homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To no one’s surprise, many people have gotten bored of not being able to go outside of their homes and instead sitting and binge-watching television shows or TikToks.
If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that anything can become popular because of people’s boredom. From Zoom calls to Dalgona coffee, there have been a number of trends that emerged because of mundane quarantine life.
One of the more popular trends to come out of the pandemic is video games. Everyone has probably heard of Fall Guys by now, but recently, another online game has become as or even more popular — Among Us.
Among Us is an online multiplayer game where players have to determine the “good guy” players from the “bad guy” players — otherwise known as a social deduction game. When I first heard about the game, people described it as something similar to Mafia or Town of Salem. The goal of the game is to survive and figure out who the killer among the group is before they all die.
Among Us uses the same concept. The game consists of four to 10 players with a predetermined number of killers, or “Imposters,” whose main objective is to kill the rest of the group, called “Crewmates.” Throughout the game, the Crewmates have a range of tasks to do — from electrical rewiring to shooting asteroids — that contribute to the completion of the game.
The Imposters, however, can sabotage the Crewmates by shutting down lights or destroying communication systems, for example, to make it harder for the group to finish their tasks. This gives the Imposters time and opportunities to kill members.
When a body is found, players report it, leading to a group meeting, where each player defends their case as to why they are innocent. If a majority of the Crewmates determine that a player is not telling the truth, they are ejected from the game. This goes on until the Imposter kills all Crewmates or the Crew figures out who the Imposter(s) are.
The game gives players many customization options, from cosmetic — like changing the look of your bean-like astronaut character — to those involving gameplay. The host of the game has the option to increase characters’ speed, cones of vision, location and even the amount of tasks needed to be done. The amount of options Among Us has is great, as it means players are not stuck playing the same thing over and over again.
However, some players find that playing as a Crewmate is more boring than playing as an Imposter since all they do is perform tasks and find the killer, while Imposters have the thrill of doing the actual killing and sneaking around. Because the Imposters get chosen at random, some players do not even get the chance to play as a killer.
Among Us was released in 2018, developed by indie game company Innersloth. The game received little to no critical attention when it first came out but was brought to the mainstream in 2020. The game went from around 50 players an hour to almost 110,000. Among Us game designer Marcus Bromander said their poor reception was due to “bad marketing.”
To the game developers’ surprise, Among Us had a meteoric rise within the last several months, with a peak in August and September. Several international gaming streamers can be credited for the initial ascent of the game, which reached American audiences in July.
One of the biggest streaming platforms, Twitch, became the fourth most visited website in the United States in 2014. For the past several years, gaming streamers have brought many games into the mainstream, such as Fortnite and Fall Guys. They not only provide gameplay but also entertainment and interaction with viewers, which contributes to their channels’ popularity. In turn, they garner more and more fans which, subsequently, leads to the games they play becoming popular.
Perhaps one of the most influential factors in the game’s more recent success is Twitter — more specifically, Twitter memes spawning from the sometimes-heated and hilarious gameplay. It should also be noted that online memes have also led to the rise of another online game, the previously-mentioned Fall Guys.
Among Us is currently available on PC and mobile platforms, where players can cross-platform play — meaning that PC players can play with mobile players and vice versa. The game developers stated they want to release the game on more popular platforms, Playstation and Xbox, but that does not seem to be coming any time soon due to certain complications. To be specific, PC and mobile players are able to chat with one another, whether it is through Among Us’ in-game chat room or players using voice call to talk — personally, my friends and I use Google Meets as a means to communicate throughout the game. It is a bit harder to implement these features on console games, most likely due to the difficulty of typing with the controls.
While the game is still relatively new to many players, perhaps Among Us’ developers will use this opportunity to give the people more updates to keep the game going. Innersloth has also stated that they want to capitalize on the game’s success and follow it up with an Among Us 2, but there are not many updates about that just yet. If you want the perfect game to play with three to nine of your friends — and maybe ruin your friendships with all of the backstabbing and guessing — Among Us is the game for you.