Gaming

How the worst year ever helped people fall in love with 'Among Us'

This game may be nearly three years old, but the inexorable darkness of 2020 has given it a new sense of purpose.

Among Us is a game that came out in 2018, though you wouldn't know it given how prolific it is on Twitch right now and the stream of accompanying Among Us memes that continue to sprout up online.

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Initially, the game was streamed by players in South Korea, Brazil, and other countries before it caught on this Spring in the English-speaking world. Since then, Among Us has had a rocket ship-like trajectory toward popularity, even earning its own Nintendo Switch port this month.

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But why now?

Turns out, just like in life, timing is everything when it comes to video games, and Among Us is the right game for the current time...

Let us explain...

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The rules of the game are pretty simple. There are two teams, the alien imposter(s) and the humans. The humans are tasked with making sure their space shuttle launches successfully by completing all of the objectives and finding imposters. The imposter on the other hand, must ensure that the ship doesn't take off by means of sabotage or killing all of the real crew members without being discovered.

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Where Among Us shows its real charm is in the process of deduction. The act of deciding who's an imposter and who's an ally is carried out via in-game "meetings" which are triggered when a body is found. This facet of the game requires players to actually speak to one another through a microphone.

ibai on Twitch

Largely, the game centers on good, old-fashioned discourse, which at most other points in modern human history would seem pretty banal, but in 2020, the simple act of playing a social game together feels more like a beacon of hope than a simple choice in mechanics.

Among us is only playable online with other humans (4-10 people), meaning the social interaction is baked in, you're forced to interact with both teammates and adversaries using real, spoken, human words – a luxury in a time where most people are living their lives intentionally avoiding contact with others.

Wolfabelle on Twitch

In part due to the social aspect, Among Us packages the fun of playing a board game with friends into a format that, despite falling short of actually replacing human closeness, acts as a valuable sit-in for activities that (because of COVID-19) could potentially endanger ourselves and others.

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Don't get us wrong: Among Us is also just plain fun – if it were just about having conversations online, we'd be nominating Zoom for Game of the Year.

Masayoshi on Twitch

So next time you're feeling a little (or a lot) disconnected maybe consider putting the solitary open world RPG down and figuring out which one of your friends is actually trying to kill you. We promise it'll be more fun than it sounds.

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