By Anastasia Bekker
Elm Staff Writer
Even if you haven’t played it, chances are you’ve heard of “Among Us” — the game that has captivated players across the world with its contrast of teamwork and betrayal.
In each round, a team of 10 crew members work together to keep their spaceship running by completing tasks, like calibrating engines and taking out trash.
But there are also impostors onboard — crew members whose goal is to kill all the others.
One of the most interesting aspects of the game is trying to read people in order to figure out who’s lying and who’s telling the truth in order to discover who the impostor is. In emergency meetings called by the players, all the crew members discuss who they think is the impostor, or impostors, so they can gang up and attack.
People like the game because it lets you see past people’s images of themselves. How do they react when they’ve been accused of being a liar?
“There’s a barrier that gets lowered when there’s heightened emotions,” Phil Jameson, a comedian, Twitch streamer, and “Among Us” fan, said in an interview with The New York Times writer Taylor Lorenz on Oct. 14. “When someone is accusing you of killing a friend in the game, you get a peek into how they actually are, as opposed to how they want to present themselves.”
“Among Us” is also the perfect way for people to connect during a time when they cannot meet in person, since you can play with friends or strangers the world over, from Maryland to Tokyo.
Discord servers allow thousands of players to come together and discuss the game, which has a recorded total of 98,000 members, according to Lorenz.
The online community for the game spans several platforms. Twitter accounts dedicated solely to “Among Us” memes, such as @nocontextauss and @AmongAllOfUs as well as the countless TikTok videos with the game hashtag, demonstrate the vast online community for fans of the game.
Originally released in 2018 by indie game company Innersloth, the game didn’t become popular until earlier this year. With everyone staying at home, the quarantine provided the perfect opportunity for people to discover “Among Us,” needing a way to connect with friends while staying socially distanced.
Twitch streamers, like internet personality Chance Morris, also known as Sodapoppin, have helped popularize the game by livestreaming it for their viewers. Later, YouTubers like PewDiePie and James Charles followed suit, gaining more traction for playing the game and showcasing its unique premise and appeal.
“There’s something weirdly engaging about the mechanics of the thing — the required tasks, the suspicious stalking, the little bits of help that exist for crewmates — like watching cams or tracking players on the map,” Jason Sheehan said in a Nov. 12 article he wrote for NPR.
Many people agree, based on the game’s wild popularity during recent months. “Among Us” became so successful that the developers scratched plans for a second game, instead choosing to focus on improving the first one.
“The main reason we [were] shooting for a sequel is because the codebase of ‘Among Us 1’ is so outdated and not built to support adding so much new content,” InnerSloth said in a Sept. 24 blog post. “However, seeing how many people are enjoying ‘Among Us 1’ really makes us want to be able to support the game and take it to the next level.”
Along with being a fun way to connect with others and pass the time during quarantine, “Among Us” has also been a vehicle for activism. A political activism organization called MoveOn has partnered with Justice Democrats and Crooked Media to organize Among Us livestreams with activists and political figures.
Reps. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar connected to hundreds of thousands of viewers during an Oct. 20 Twitch livestream of the game, all while discussing the importance of the upcoming election and encouraging viewers to vote during gameplay.
“Virtual organizing is really popping off right now,” 19-year-old activist Cameron Kasky told Lorenz on Oct. 14. “‘Among Us’ is a great place to talk about really anything you want to get out there. You’ve got people’s eyes and attention and the game is not too complicated where it’d be distracting to talk about voting. It leaves the viewers visually engaged while you talk about whatever you want.”
“Among Us” has provided a way for people to reconnect during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether with friends or strangers, whether for a cause or just for fun.
Under the simple gameplay and the cute graphics, the heart of “Among Us” is the people who play it — and make it so fun.
Featured Photo caption: In a time lingering in uncertainty, the video game “Among Us” seeks to bring friends together virtually, all while trying to find out who is the true culprit. Photo by Mark Cooley.