Many people who frequent social media now know about the indie game “Among Us.” The game grew in popularity over recent weeks, spawning memes on social media, an “Among Us Struggle Tweets” Twitter account and endless videos on TikTok.
Those who haven’t played the game might wonder what the hype is all about; meanwhile, those who have played the game often quickly come to love it. “Among Us” is a relatively simple video game available to play on both PC and mobile devices.
The game operates similarly to “Froggy/Wink Murderer” or “Mafia,” in which players sit in a circle and one player is the killer, trying to win the game by eliminating the rest of the players without getting caught. “Among Us” is similar in that only the “imposter(s)” knows who the other imposters are and have to try to blend in while simultaneously sabotaging and murdering the other players. Regular “crewmates” are assigned tasks which, upon completion, result in their victory unless they manage to find and vote off the imposters first.
But why all the fanfare for a relatively simple game? Why now, when it came out two years ago?
Frankly, it’s the perfect game to play in quarantine. Ten people can play at once, and they can join from anywhere in the world with a server code. A group of friends can get together without breaking any social distancing rules for several quick rounds of the game. Even without friends who’ve been successfully convinced to download and play the game, anyone can join a random server, configuring their settings to search for servers with different maps, number of imposters and more.
The game also provides an almost party-like atmosphere. With customizations such as the player’s name, character color and even add-ons like hats, clothes and floating pets, players can express themselves and make their character distinct. The discussion function — which activates only when a body is found and reported or an emergency meeting is called, sometimes resulting in the death of the meeting caller from sheer annoyance of the rest of the players who didn’t get to complete their tasks — is another vital and enjoyable part of the game.
Arguments, lies and desperate bids for the other players’ trust will ensue. Imposters will accuse crewmates of murder and the crewmates, each wanting to simultaneously catch the imposter and prove their own innocence, quickly turn on each other. The game is fast-paced, brutal and hilarious — never more apparent than when everyone unanimously ejects a pleading crewmate into the unforgiving depths of space only for the display text to announce that that player was not an imposter.
The game holds up even better than in-person games like “Mafia” and “Froggy Murder” because of the fact that dead players becomes ghosts and can continue to play. Unlike the living members, who can still only chat when a body is found or a meeting called, ghosts can talk at any time, often berating the other players for their sheer obliviousness and silently begging them to vote for the player who actually killed them.
Dead crewmates can complete the rest of their tasks in an attempt to help their teammates reach victory, meanwhile dead imposters — who can only die by being successfully voted out — can still sabotage the rest of the crew, even if they can no longer kill them.
Now’s the perfect time to download a new game to obsess over and play with a group of friends. There’s nothing quite like unsuccessfully pulling off a murder only to successfully shift the blame to the one player who saw you. The sheer stress and drama and excitement of this game, whether you’re running from a crewmate who happens to be walking in the same direction as you or accusing anyone who so much stands in one spot for too long, is just the kind of fun and lighthearted gameplay that everyone needs during quarantine.
Contact Jillian Carey at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts, and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Instagram and Twitter @Breeze_Culture.