Among Us: How A Small Indie Game Took Over The World
By: Caroline Ross'22
In recent months, a video game called Among Us has exploded in popularity and has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, having gone from a couple hundred players to millions of players in a couple months. Even people who don’t regularly play video games have downloaded Among Us on their phones and have been playing with their friends and family. Ask any kid at SSSAS about the game and they will tell you they play it or have at least heard of it. Even celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon. For example, politician AOC used Among Us to promote voting by streaming herself playing the game on Twitch, a popular streaming platform for video game gameplay. A game that was almost unheard of just a few months ago is now on everyone’s minds (and phones) and is competing with iconic, multimillion dollar games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, and Call of Duty.
Among Us, originally released in 2018, is a social deduction game similar to Mafia or the Clue. The game is set in the future on a spaceship where there are eight crewmates and two imposters. The imposters’ jobs are to act like a crewmate by pretending to do tasks and feigning innocence at meetings while also making other players look suspicious. The crewmates' jobs are to complete a certain number of tasks that help maintain the ship while simultaneously trying to figure out who the imposters are without getting killed. Crewmates can win by finishing all of their tasks or voting both imposters out. Imposters can win by either killing all of the crewmates or if innocent crewmates are voted off until there is an even number of imposters and crewmates. Among Us is regarded by many to have seen a rise in popularity due to popular Youtubers and Twitch streamers playing it and posting about it. I was able to sit down, or zoom, with some avid players of the game to find out their perspectives on the game.
On how he found out about the game, sophomore Ollie Nichols states that, “I really just found out about it when a lot of Youtubers that I watch kind of started playing it, and, well, Among Us isn't exactly the most unique game in the world so I was able to understand it fairly quickly.”
Sophomore Lauren Irish agrees that Youtube had a lot to do with Among Us’ exposure, “I found out about it through YouTube. I was watching YouTube and there were a lot of references to this woman's channel I was watching. And then I left the video and suddenly my entire YouTube recommended page was spammed with Among Us videos.” Lauren also commented on another reason why the game blew up, “the idea of having an imposter among a party is very widespread in video games. I think that what really brought Among Us to popularity was just the ingenious marketing. The game was released in 2018 and no one really knew about it. But then they slowly built up a presence and then a bunch of online streamers started to play the game. A lot of people were really excited by it, because you had all these famous people playing it. And then it got so widespread that even politicians started playing it. So I think it was just like the slow buildup of the game that sort of brought it into popularity. . . also just the idea of the game is just so much fun.”
On why the game suddenly became popular two years after its release, everyone that I interviewed agreed that the game became known mostly because of Covid-19. Junior Charles Bradburn remarks, “Well I think it’s because people are able to like. . . they're all able to play together. While also you know, not having to be together. So it's I think it's one of the same reasons Fall Guys blew up for a bit because people can play together with their friends, but they don't have to be physically together. . .” Fall Guys is another videogame that became popular this summer, “Yeah, it's mostly just because people are able to talk with each other without being physically together,” he added. “You know, you're able to get large groups of people in one game, when you can't really do that in person anymore. It's a fun game to play with friends. I think that's the reason why.”
Senior Sebastian Villarreal agrees, “I feel like Among Us isn’t really a game you can play in person. It's a lot harder to do because you're supposed to stay quiet and it’s really easy to read someone based off of body language and facial expressions. It’s also a lot easier to lie when you are playing on Discord where you can only hear someone and not see them which is a big part of Among Us. . . so I think Covid probably did help with the game’s popularity.”
Not only has Among Us helped us connect with our friends during quarantine, but it has also been used to raise money for charity. Freshman Claire Helmreich held an Among Us tournament over Thanksgiving break to raise money for the Children’s National Hospital through her club “TRACIN” which stands for Teens Raising Awareness for Children in Need. Claire started TRACIN club last year with her friend Charlotte Nichols and they were able to raise around $600 by doing a bake sale at the middle school. With Covid-19, doing a Bake Sale this year would have been difficult because the school is split into two different groups, so one group wouldn't be able to buy anything from the sale. Claire realized that hosting an Among Us tournament would be a perfect way to raise money because “a lot of people like Among Us” and it can be played while socially distant so both kids in the green group and red group could participate.
Basically how the tournament worked was everyone who signed up (to sign up you had to pay $5) was put into a breakout room. Then, a leader from the club started a game for each breakout room. If you won as an imposter or crewmate, you got four points. You also got two points for each kill as an imposter and one point if you voted an imposter out. The top three players from each game that got the most points were put into a final game later that day and the winner of the tournament was determined from that game. The club raised about $125 plus donations from the tournament for the Children’s National Hospital.
As for the future of the game, everyone I interviewed said that they would like to see the creators of the game add more to it. For example, adding more maps since the current version has only three maps and adding more modes such as a Hide and Seek mode where the crewmates know who the imposter is at the start of the round and have to hide while doing their tasks. The developers of the game have also considered making a second version of the game called Among Us 2 where they basically fix everything about the game and add what I mentioned above. However, Among Us 2 was cancelled and instead the developers are focusing on making the original version better. Whatever happens, the Among Us hype won’t be fading anytime soon and the game itself is on track to become a classic in the gaming community.