The social guessing game, Among Us, went from virtual obscurity, to global phenomenon in 2020. The game garnered such hype, during covid-19 pandemic fear enduced global lockdown, that it became the year’s most streamed game. How did a little game become so popular?
Developed by US-based mobile games outfit, Innersloth, the social guessing game, Among Us tooke the world by storm in 2020. Though being much older than it’s hype – it was released in 2018 – the game became the darling of 2020, it’s gameplay format somehow providing social interaction for a global population adhering to social distancing protocols.
The game is simple enough in it’s design , in both, look and feel. It went for a simple, cartoonist look, which appealed to people in lockdown. So much so that it blew past more graphics intensive titles, PUBG, or Fortnite. Gameplay is far simpler as well, with the title’s format being similar to a whodunnit game like Mafia.
The game splits players into two groups, “Crewmates” and “Imposters”. Crew members are tasked with doing gamified maintenance tasks on “vital equipment” across various space themed maps, while identifying Imposters, and staying alive. Imposters -, on the other hand – have to run around sabotaging maintainance work, killing crew members, and not getting caught.
A simple enough set up that gets complicated by the fact that one cannot communicate in game, and must call an Emergency Meeting, which only Crew can call. Crew members call emergency meetings to report matters, and discuss who they suspect of being the Imposter.
Crew members win by completing all assigned tasks, or booting out all Imposters. The other side wins by killing all crew, or doing irreparable damage to to vital equipment. Players who are killed, or booted out continue to play on, but in limited capacity.
Players who find themselves murdered, or voted out of play keep playing on in their respective roles as ghosts. Crew ghosts still continue to aid living crew member from the great beyond, by doing repairs. Dead imposters can still go around doing damage, and killing Crewmates. The only limitation is that they cannot communicate with ‘living’ players, or participate in – or call – emergency meetings. Meaning they have no way of alerting them to who the imposter is.
Innersloth released AmongbUs in 2018, – as previously mentioned – but the game went passed-up for more popular, and “explosive” titles. It wasn’t until the chance occurance of global Covid-19 pandemic lockdown regulations that the, previously unknown title took the spotlight. What appealed most to masses, about the game – perhaps – is that it may have offered a simulation of a relaxed social environment, where there are simple tasks to be done, and much time for chitchat.
Among Us went from social guessing-game to social nework-like phenomenon on the back of social distancing induced isolation. All it took was for Twitch influencer, Sodapoppin’ streaming the game to his fans last July, for a game who’s parent company almost pulled the plug on – were it not for an outcry from a few devoted fans – to become the most popular game of 2020.
By the end of last year, the game had become so popular that YouTube influencers, TikTok Influencers, Hollywood celebrities, as well as Politicians were streaming live footage of in-game action to viewers, who guessed along with them as to who the Imposter was. The game had taken on a life of it’s own, with millions of memes, parodical videos, and merchandise proliferating the internet.
The hype hasnt abated much in 2021, with the game having set a new paradigm for social interaction. Allowing people to connect with strangers, as with – now heavily restricted – social gatherings, from the comfortable setting of one’s own home.