When an indie game company started Among Us in 2018, it was met with little fanfare. Multiplayer gaming stayed under the radar as many games did until the summer of the pandemic.
Eager to keep viewers entertained during quarantine, Chance Morris, known online as Sodapoppin, began broadcasting the game, created by InnerSloth, to its 2.8 million Twitch subscribers in July.
In mid-September, Among Us caught on like wildfire. Suddenly the big YouTube stars, influencers and TikTok streamers were playing it. PewDiePie, James Charles, and Dr. Lupo have all played the game for millions.
Among Us is a multiplayer game in which between four and 10 players are dropped on an alien spaceship. Each player is assigned a private role as a teammate or impostor.
The crew members have to run around the ship and try to complete a set of tasks while trying to uproot and avoid being killed by one or more impostors. Players can be knocked out from the ship, so every game becomes a survival game: successfully ward off imposters or complete all your tasks to win. It’s simple, cartoony, and easy enough for a five-year-old to play on an iPhone.
Young fans of online influencers didn’t just watch Among Us streams, they also started playing the game. Millions of teens and children across the country have become addicted to Among Us, which has started serving as the default social platform for quarantined youth.
A few weeks ago, I went from hearing nothing about it to hearing everything everywhere, said Judah Rice, 16, a high school student in Texas. People are texting about this, I know people who are on dedicated Discord servers and group chats among us. I have friends who get together all the time and play it.
Among us, Discord servers started appearing in early September. In one case, more than 98,000 teens are logging on, socializing, chatting and playing the game. Benson, a 13-year-old server administrator, said there were often 30 to 40 different games among us at any given time of the day. day on the server’s voice chat channels. Everyone is between 13 and 20 years old, he said. My friends, if their teacher doesn’t show up to their online class, they play, it’s a way to pass the time when you have nothing else to do. Since we can’t really congregate in a public space like the park, Among Us allows us to be social distanced online.
Among Us is very different from other very social video games like Fortnite, for example. It’s more similar to a board game like Monopoly, or a board game like Werewolf, where players have to read personalities and determine if they’re being lied to in order to win. The large group size makes it easy to invite new friends to the group.
You can meet a lot of people from Among Us, I made some friends of them, said Juan Alonso Flores, 17, high school student in Florida. Once you start playing with the same people, you start to get to know each other. You get their phone numbers, the Discord tags.
It’s not just teens who bond with gambling. Adults who can no longer hit a bar or swing at an after work party also find community thanks to Among Us. Ricky Hayberg, 36, writer and host of Internet Today, a cultural and tech YouTube channel, said he has developed stronger friendships with people he met playing with us over the past two months than those known offline for years.
There is a more natural conversation that follows. It’s more of a board game. You hang out with friends and the game is secondary, Mr. Hayberg said. To be good at gambling, you need to know if people are lying, telling the truth, and telling their general personality.
The continued success of the games is further propelled by an endless stream of Among Us related content across the internet. Twitter accounts like No Context Among Us and Among Us Struggle Tweets post memes about the game to hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Videos on TikTok, including the hashtag Among Us, have garnered over 13 billion views.
The hype just keeps growing because everyone is playing it, said Nicole Draper, 17, who posts memes among us on Bruhloon, her Instagram meme page. My TikTok For You page is inundated with memes among us. People do parodies and voiceovers of scenes from Among Us. It has grown bigger than any other game.
Throughout the games’ ancestry, streamers on Twitch continue to fuel everything. If anyone had any doubts that Twitch streamers were influencers before, we’ve proven that to be true, said Erin Wayne, Director of the Creator Marketing Community at Twitch.
Twitch fans have watched over 200 million hours of Among Us gameplay on the platform so far this year. Nathan Grayson, a writer for games site Kotaku, said the game was specially designed in a way that makes it a lot more entertaining to watch than your average first person shooter.
Viewers can see influencers let their guard down and express who they really are. The game is about deception and the personality of the players, Mr. Grayson said. It brings back the spirit of being with your friends. It is designed for streamers to play on each other and they can also have streams where all of them are broadcasting on separate channels with their audience speculating in the chat on who is an impostor.
Phil Jamesson, 28, a comedian who broadcasts on Twitch, said the game was similar to a series like Hot Ones, where fans can see their favorite celebrities abandon the facade as they struggle to tolerate chicken wings from more and more spicy.
There’s a barrier that lowers when there’s heightened emotions. When someone accuses you of killing a friend in the game, you get a glimpse of who they really are, as opposed to how they want to present themselves, he said.
Already, people are harnessing the excitement around gambling for political ends. MoveOn, a progressive advocacy organization and political action committee, aired Among Us games on Twitch with organizations like Justice Democrats and Crooked Media, and well-known activists to encourage young viewers to vote.
The virtual organization is really popping up right now, said Cameron Kasky, 19, student and activist. Among us, this is a great place to talk about anything you want to do. You have people’s eyes and attention, and the game isn’t too complicated where it would be distracting to talk about voting. This leaves viewers visually engaged as you talk about whatever it is you want.
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