On “Among Us,” the Video Game Taking the Internet and the Democratic Party by Storm
It's called Among Us, and it's the most addictive thing since Animal Crossing
Quarantine has turned many of us into #Gamers.
You may recall the Animal Crossing frenzy that took place at the start of the pandemic. The highly anticipated Nintendo Switch game was released just as we found ourselves stuck at home due to COVID-19, with nothing better to do than spend immeasurable amounts of time building virtual islands and talking with anthropomorphic animals.
Now there’s a new game taking over the web, which you may have heard your children, friends or even Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talking about. It’s called Among Us, and it’s about to be everywhere.
The game is currently at the top of the App Store and Google Play charts, and according to The Verge, passed 100 million downloads in Q3 2020. Discord — the online service many gamers use to communicate — saw a “new lifetime high for mobile app downloads” since Among Us gained popularity, as many players are using the service to chat about the game. Meanwhile fans of the popular live-streaming service Twitch “have watched more than 200 million hours worth of Among Us gameplay,” according to the New York Times.
Developed by indie gaming company InnerSloth back in 2018, Among Us is a multiplayer “social deduction game” you can download and play for free on iOS and Android devices, or on your PC for $4.99.
The gameplay is quite simple and echoes classic deduction party games like Mafia or Werewolf that require you to read behavior and determine who’s lying and who’s telling the truth.
At the start of each game — which you can play with as few as four and as many as 10 people — you are secretly given the role of either “crewmember” or “the imposter.” If you’re a crewmember, your job is to run around the spaceship completing tasks. Avoid being killed and try to root the imposter out in order to win. If you’re the imposter, your mission is to kill everyone on board without getting caught. Each time a player is found dead or a player reports something suspicious, you are taken to a voting sequence where everyone discusses who they think is “sus” (that’d be suspicious) and then proceeds to kick someone out.
While current circumstances have made the game really pop off in recent months, the game itself warrants some praise for being extremely addictive.
After downloading the game for myself, I played a good hour of it without looking up from my phone, then played throughout the day during work breaks and sneakily during Zoom meetings (though, to be fair, there are worse things I could’ve been doing.) The game forces you to utilize those Sherlockian deduction skills and work on your own gaslighting abilities. It’s fast-paced and fun, even if you’re not Discord-level dedicated.
While the game’s accessibility (it’s free on most platforms and doesn’t require any extra consoles or gaming systems) and its straightforward, easy gameplay surely factor into its popularity, the pandemic undoubtedly skyrocketed it into a craze.
With kids, teens and adults having nowhere to go, the game is a cure for boredom, but it also allows for safe socialization and interaction with other humans, thanks to the in-game chat function. It’s also easy to create private rooms and play with friends. As one 13-year-old told the Times, the game is a way for friends to “online social distance” (and a way to pass the time when their teacher doesn’t show up for Zoom school.)
As the Times noted, popular YouTube creators, TikTokkers and Twitch streamers have all been recording themselves playing the game for their millions of followers, while Among Us memes on TikTok and Twitter have also helped spread the word about the game.
And to further solidify its growing popularity, last night U.S. Reps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar hopped on Twitch to play a few rounds of the game with popular streamers in an attempt to get out the vote. The stream broke Twitch streaming records, peaking at 435,000 viewers around the time of the first match.
This is not an uncommon tactic for the Democratic Party. Joe Biden recently created his own Animal Crossing island called “Biden HQ,” where players can learn about the campaign, visit polling stations and the candidate’s field office, and cop their very own “Biden Harris” yard sign.
It remains to be seen how successful these practices will prove to be, but putting yourself on one of the largest platforms frequented by young people and playing their current favorite game isn’t the worst political strategy. Especially if you can earn their respect by nabbing a few kills.
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