InnerSloth’s 2018 micro-budget title Among Us has gained mass popularity over the last couple of months; and not without reason. The game’s simple Mafia like model has struck a chord with gamers everywhere, and even people who don’t really play games have found themselves hooked – myself included.
When my brother rang me up one day to excitedly tell me about a new game he’d found out about, I didn’t take much notice. After all, I thought, he seems to find a new game to obsess over every month. But this seemed different: first my best friend told me about it, then another brought it up, and another. As this chain just kept on getting longer, I became more and more intrigued. From their descriptions, it didn’t seem to be the kind of game I’d like; “you’re on a spaceship, and you betray your team members and kill them to win” just didn’t sell the experience to me. However, being the good sister and friend that I am, I sighed, gave in, and decided to strap myself in the game’s figurative spaceship for the ride. And boy, what a ride it’s been.
I wish I could pinpoint exactly why Among Us is so addictive. It isn’t the most graphically advanced game in the world, nor does it have an impressive storyline to its name (though people are certainly making up their own backstories). Nonetheless, the game itself is immensely entertaining, as many social deduction games are – especially when friends are involved. And, also like other social deduction games, Among Us is easy to play, but tough to master. If you play on a public server though, the game is a completely different beast. You’ll find yourself in a room full of complete strangers, with the potential for mass chaos (or fun!) to swiftly ensue.
I’ve joined games with ridiculously unfair settings – cheats that guarantee the impostor’s victory, every time. I’ve joined games where no one spoke English, but we still managed to win. I’ve even joined games where players flirt with each other, as if this were some kind of ‘Gaming Tinder’, but my favourite games have been the ones where I find myself with a group of instant best friends from the world over.
One evening I logged into a lobby with seven or eight other people, and began playing as usual. Over the course of the next couple of games though, this group seemed to come together so easily that one would suspect we’d known each other for years. Smart, methodical players, presenting evidence and concrete facts to the jury of fellow crewmates, rather than half heartedly typing ‘red sus’ in the chat. There was also light-hearted banter with a new player who didn’t understand how the game worked. We taught them the ropes, bonded, and generally had a splendid time for a few more games. We were super sleuths, musketeers, comrades. Exposing liars, narrowly escaping danger, running the ship. Until…
“You were disconnected from the server.” I was shocked, frustrated, and heartbroken. My new friends had been ripped away from me in a mere instant – I’d gone from hopping around my virtual spaceship, merrily completing tasks one minute, to hovering in the proverbial abyss the next. Disconnected. Distraught. Stranded. The urge to hit ‘delete app’ was unbearable. Tears began falling down – no, flying out of my face, travelling at great velocity across the room before creating dozens of pebble sized dents in the wall.
Okay, maybe I’m being a little melodramatic; it was upsetting, but not that upsetting. I soon calmed down, and managed to reason with myself – how, indeed, would I have kept in touch with these people anyway? Sooner or later something like this had to happen, unless you’d feel comfortable with sharing your contact details or Twitter handle with a group of strangers. That may be okay for some, but it’s not for me. For the truly determined though, there are subreddits like r/AmongUsFriendFinder that fellow lost souls can use to try and re-find the friends they sorely miss; at the time of writing, the subreddit has over 25,000 members – validation that I am not alone in my plight.
In all seriousness though, InnerSloth, being a small indie studio, understandably didn’t have the budget to create and maintain too many reliable servers for Among Us, and certainly didn’t anticipate the game exploding in popularity the way it has. It is annoying, yes, but we move on, despite the pain.
I find it funny how even in a game designed to rip a team of players apart from the inside out, in a game built on deception, we manage to find friends, and build communities, however fleeting they may be. And when the inevitable happens and you must log off, you can be reasonably sure that another day, you’ll be able to do it all over again.
You would expect the craze around Among Us to fade, as is the case with most fads and trends. However, the developers have already scrapped a planned sequel in favour of improving the original game itself, to build on what they know already works well. Because of this, it seems like we’ll be hearing about this game for some time – especially from loyal players who will continue to soldier on, merrily hopping around their ships in their collective quest to discover more of the universe.
Featured image credits: InnerSloth