Among Us: The game that saved 2020

Screenshot+of+Among+Us+mobile+game.

Photo by Thomas Chen

Screenshot of Among Us mobile game.

Thomas Chen and Kerry Donovan

Dethroning the popular hit game Fall Guys, the online multiplayer game, Among Us, has surged to the top in downloads on the app store and viewership across video-sharing platforms such as Twitch and Youtube. However, the question stands: can the game live up to its own hype or will it be just another brief trend? 

The game takes place on a spacecraft that includes crewmates and up to three impostors. The various rooms on the spacecraft have tasks for each crewmate to respectively complete. However, the goal of the impostor(s) is to sabotage and kill enough crewmates to have an equal amount of impostor(s) and crewmates before all tasks are complete. In order for the crewmates to win, they can either figure out the identity of the impostor(s) and vote them out or complete all tasks before it is too late.

At first glance, the game seems simple and fun, but something that would get boring after a few rounds. The game has a cartoonish look and the typical appearance of a free mobile app, so it gave us the impression of an ordinary game that would rely on players having enough friends to fill a game lobby.

When we first played the game with a group of friends on an online voice call, we were actually overwhelmed with how to play the game and relied on more experienced players to guide us through. Although the game, at first, was difficult to understand with all of the terms players used and the locations of the spaceship, we became more engaged as we learned about how things in the game worked. As we continued playing, the controls and mechanics became easier to understand, allowing us to experience the excitement that everyone has been raving about.

There are many small mechanics included in the game that allow for gameplay to be more unique and entertaining. Players are given tools that allow them to achieve their goals and trick other players, creating a sense of depth to the game while maintaining its simple core structure.

A pivotal part of the game is attributed to the players’ ability to call emergency meetings to discuss who they think is the impostor. We found this portion of the game to be the most entertaining. Being able to discuss and argue with friends and strangers over the internet gives an adrenaline rush, making the hype surrounding this game more understandable.

Despite our positive experience, we felt that we were correct in our impression that the game was reliant on playing with friends. Without the active players that make up the Among Us community and their organization of gaming servers using apps such as Discord to meet up in voice calls, the experience would just not be the same.

Players without friends available to join them are limited to playing with other random players that can freely leave matches with no punishment. Online multiplayer lobbies often end up empty mid-game as a result.

As mentioned before, the game offers a chat feature that allows players to type out their responses to one another; however, this method of communication is too limited and leads players to rely on typing short and vague responses that result in nothing happening.

The ability for players to speak to one another is essential as it also adds to the charm of the game in identifying lies and deception within the voices of other players. Additionally, players are able to communicate with one another and form their own rules such as limiting when players can speak out loud, making the gameplay more immersive and ensuring competitive integrity. All of these added benefits when playing in organized matches are unavailable in online multiplayer matches.

Despite the downsides of the game for casual players, the often chaotic but hilarious discussions and terms used in matches have inspired countless memes that people across social media can enjoy. Simple catchphrases that are commonly used during the emergency meetings such as “red is sus” (a way to refer to a player as being “suspicious”) are being used repeatedly within meme culture across many different platforms. One of the many examples of memes stemmed from tweets such as “orange is sus vote him out,” where people began to express their political opinion in a comical way by referencing the game, offering a more Gen-Z stance in regards to the upcoming election. 

Among Us’ presence on social media goes beyond influencing talk on platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Creators utilizing the platform Twitch to live stream themselves playing the game have had a large effect on its increased popularity. This month, streamers such as Gaules, who amassed 11.9 million viewer hours playing Among Us according to twitchmetrics.net, have been an influence in the game’s dramatic increase in popularity. 

What makes this game such a hit is the simplicity surrounding it. The games are quick, offering intimate and exhilarating interactions with the people you’re playing with. When you download the app on a mobile device, you can immediately start playing by creating and sharing a simple code with your friends or joining a public game. 

Among Us also mirrors an overall trend within Gen-Z: it’s the perfect game for people to form quick conversations with one another as well as stream over popular outlets. From completing tasks to killing crewmates, we can say with confidence that Among Us is worth the hype it’s been receiving.