Among Us – one of the Most Popular Online Game of 2020
(pictured credit: axel 795, Pixabay)
If you have teens and you haven’t yet heard of ‘Among Us’ then I guarantee it won’t be long. Among Us is an online deception and strategy game that is having a real moment worldwide. Over the last six months, it has amassed 85 million players on both PC and mobile. In September, it broke the all-time record-setting peak player ceiling on Steam when nearly 400,000 people played it simultaneously and, Google Trends reports that there were 50 times more Google searches for it at the beginning of October, as compared to the beginning of August.
What’s The Game About?
Among Us is an online multi-player game that is set on a failing spaceship. Suitable for up to 10 players, it has been compared to ‘Murder in the Dark’ or ‘Murder Wink’ – the old-school party game you may have played as children.
At the start of the game, you’re advised whether you are a regular crew member or an imposter. Crew mates are tasked with completing small tasks that benefit the spaceship eg cleaning our air-conditioning ducts whereas imposters (between 1-3 players) create havoc on the spaceship and seek out victims to kill – without letting anyone know.
Every time a dead body is found, a crewmember will call a meeting to workshop who they think the imposter is. This is one of the few times players can talk to each other. As you can imagine, this can get very heated (and entertaining) as players try to implicate others and remove themselves from focus. All players then vote on who they think the imposter is – and the player with the most votes is ejected from the spaceship’s airlock.
Crewmates win by managing to repair the ship and eject all the imposters while the imposter wins by killing all the crewmates before they complete their jobs.
Why Has It Become So Popular?
Among Us was actually launched in 2018 but to little fanfare. But the planets have aligned for the developers at InnerSloth and it has become one of the biggest online games ever. In fact, it’s so successful that the developers have abandoned plans for a sequel and are instead, investing their resources into perfecting the original.
There’s no doubt that pandemic life has contributed to the popularity of Among Us with many touting it as the ultimate group party game. In fact, some believe it brings all the energy and pizazz of board game night – just virtually.
It is extremely easy to learn. So, if you aren’t a gamer with years of experience (that’s me) you can absolutely play. This concept has been described by popular YouTube gamer Pegasus as ‘ingenious’ for its simplicity, and praised for its ‘extremely social’ nature.
The game is also very well priced. In fact, it’s free on mobile – but you will have to view some ads. And it’s only around $7 on a PC – so much cheaper than anything my kids have played in years!
What Parents Are Asking
Is it Suitable?
The Classification Board here is Australia gives Among Us a PG rating which means the content is mild in impact. But they do state that PG rated content is ‘not recommended for viewing by people under the age of 15 without guidance from parents, teachers or guardians.’
In Australia, the game is rated as suitable for 9+ on the App Store. On Google Play it is nominated as suitable for ages 10+.
The role of the imposter in the game to hunt and murder players is aggressive and violent. Yes, it is a cartoon-like visual which does reduce the impact but there are still bodies left lying around after the deed is done.
Parents know their children the best. Absolutely take heed of the advice, but ultimately, you need to decide what’s suitable for them. If you do decide to let your younger children play – or they’ve already discovered it – please talk about violence in video games. Does watching violent images make them feel scared or more aggressive? Do they feel better if they talk about it or, in fact, choose to watch something less violent?
Can They Chat With Strangers During The Game?
There is opportunity to chat with strangers in the game but it is less than most online games. Players can chat in the online waiting room before a game starts and of course, there is also interaction in the meetings during which the group tries to work out who the imposter is. Enabling the censor chat mode is a good option here – this limits word and aims to block out expletives however I understand that isn’t completely fool proof.
But you can choose to play the game offline, locally, which means you play only with people you know. You simply share a generated code with the players you want to join the game. I highly recommend this for younger children and teens or if you want to play the game as a family. The game can be played with as few as four players which makes an offline game far easier to get happening.
Does It Share A Positive Message?
Both trust and deceit are at the core of this game. Learning who to place your trust in is part of being a successful crewmember in Among Us whilst being a master of deceit will win you the game as an imposter.
You could argue that these themes are no different to playing Murder in the Dark or even the old classic Cluedo. However, I would absolutely have a conversation with your kids about the difference between real life and online (or gaming) life. Why not weave it into your dinnertime conversation?
My boys are really enjoying playing Among Us, in fact – we have earmarked this weekend for a family game. But please ensure you are comfortable with the game before you give your kids the green light. And if you do, be assured that one of the reasons this game is so popular is because players feel like they are part of a community – and isn’t that what we all need at the moment?
‘till next time.