Over the past two months, I have either been trying not to get killed, reporting dead bodies, or sabotaging the interior of spaceships. All of these suspenseful activities come courtesy of “Among Us,” an online multiplayer social deduction game — the latest quarantine craze.
“Among Us” was initially released in the summer of 2018 to little fanfare. However, the game began rising in popularity this past summer when users on Twitch, a popular video game streaming platform, began broadcasting the game for their audiences.
For those who are unfamiliar, “Among Us” is a mystery game that supports between four to 10 players and takes place on three space-themed maps. Before a game begins, players can customize their own avatar, these adorable jelly-bean looking humanoids in spacesuits, with one of 12 color options and a myriad of hats. From there, the host’s settings will dictate that one to three players are randomly selected to be “impostors” while the rest of the group becomes “crewmates” on the spaceship.
The game gives crewmates maintenance tasks, such as fixing electrical wiring or filling oxygen tanks, that they must complete in order to win. For the impostors to alternatively triumph, they must successfully sabotage a map’s system or kill/eliminate enough players to make an even number of crewmates and imposters.
Any living player who finds a dead body can report it and call an emergency meeting of all players. In these meetings, players try to determine the impostor(s) based on information supplied by the group. Personally, this is when the fun (and occasional rage) kicks in.
It is wickedly enjoyable to be an impostor and watch everyone else fail to pin a kill on you. Otherwise, you are left scrambling for an excuse, should players catch on to your murder. The greatest heartbreak is when your fellow crewmates mistakenly label you as suspicious, or “sus,” and vote you, an innocent crewmate, off the ship, ending the game for you. The game is made even more fun when you play with your friends, and these moves of betrayal get personal.
In our time of social distancing, “Among Us” has been the perfect outlet for my pals and myself to meet up and have a grand time without having to leave our homes. On any given night, I would bombard my friends with texts asking them to get on Zoom or join a FaceTime call to play. While “Among Us” does have in-game texting, virtual face-to-face interactions brought much more nuance to the game. After all, it is difficult to lie about being the impostor when you have 18 eyeballs watching you.
Relationships have constantly been tested as my friends and I stabbed each other in the back, literally, with our actions and votes. Still, I got a kick out of coming back together on our video call and rehashing our side-splitting misadventures.
Aside from playing by the rules, “Among Us” can also be used for other activities. My friends and I have figured out how to play hide-and-seek on the game’s three maps, and we have even used the game’s character customization suite to hold our own fashion shows. It may be that I have been cooped up for seven months, but it brings immense joy to see my friends run around in space wearing witch hats as part of the game’s Halloween update.
In fact, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) even used the game to engage voters on Oct. 20, streaming a round on her Twitch channel. In between rounds, Ocasio-Cortez directed her 435,000 viewers to IWillVote.com, a Democratic Party website where voters can find information on voting.
Whether or not you have an affinity for gaming, one round of “Among Us” is guaranteed to provide you and your friends with some memorable moments of murderous delight.