Another day, another craze over a new online game. What everyone’s been talking about this past month — besides U.S politics — is the multiplayer game "Among Us." The game, available on iPhone and Android, has met thousands of enthusiastic players including YouTubers, influencers and even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
"Among Us" originally debuted in 2018 by an indie game company, and like all trends, experienced little to no attention until a circumstance prompted its discovery — a pandemic. In July, Chance Morris (Sodapoppin) streamed the game on Twitch to his 2 million followers, and it picked up speed by September with more than 86 million downloads.
The game is set on a broken alien spaceship in which 4 to 10 players are privately delegated the role of a “crewmate” or “imposter.” Crewmates must run around the ship and fulfill tasks to fix the ship without being killed by one of the imposters, who are disguised among them.
Then, players can debate who they suspect is an imposter in a chat and vote them off the ship. If the imposter is correctly identified, the crew wins. But if not, the crew must play again until another dead body is found.
Players can also choose which color they want their character to be and add accessories — specifically hats. The game’s mobile quality also allows people to play on different devices, whether on a computer or an iPhone.
"Among Us" is especially popular among young people, ranging from 5 year olds to students like myself. I can account for this as I witnessed my 8-year-old cousin playing the game on his phone a week ago.
The game is a medium through which players can connect with people they don’t know — you only need a letter code to join the game. While this can be risky, many friendships have been formed because of it.
People started creating Discord servers to connect and bond with other players. More than 98,000 teenagers socialize and discuss the game, according to The New York Times. The game has also inspired a thread of memes and drove the "Among Us" cartoon character into wide recognition.
One meme specifically assigns a personality type based on the color of your bot in the game. It is a friendly and collaborative space and yet another example of virtual assembling done right.
"Among Us" has even entered the political mission to encourage civic engagement. Ocasio-Cortez along with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) played the game on Twitch, garnering 400,000 viewers tuning in to watch.
This was an astute strategy on her part to get out the vote by targeting her Generation Z audience. Reactions were positive and followers sensed a genuinity from Ocasio-Cortez, who is known for assertiveness as well as her grounded nature while interacting with constituents.
The public advocacy and political action committee MoveOn has also teamed up with organizations to stream "Among Us" games on Twitch.
The game is clearly entertaining to watch. It is popularly played through streams where players can play against each other and stream on separate channels so their audience can guess which person is the imposter. It evokes a sense of camaraderie between everyone involved.
"Among Us" can be played anytime and anywhere. When you need a break from things and feel disconnected, the game provides a fruitful way to pass time with a simple murder mystery plot.
It’s not surprising that it resonates with so many people during times of distress. While other online games have been exhausted throughout quarantine, "Among Us" offers a fresh and easy way to connect with people once more.