By Aaditya Saharan
Covid-19 has prompted a heavy reliance on technology — for both work and entertainment. During this time, the value of gaming has risen drastically, with Fall Guys and Call of Duty: Warzone becoming fan favorites. One game, however, has very well surpassed the competition with impressive numbers — Among Us.
Video game development company Innersloth released Among Us in June 2018, but the app wasn’t widely known until late last year, when their numbers skyrocketed. Their players per hour rose from a mere 50 to almost 110,000. According to Apptopia, the game had been downloaded 74 million times, a 661% increase over the company’s original statistics from July.
Initially, I didn’t understand the popularity surrounding Among Us. The basic graphics, the unoriginal objective, and the laggy servers made for a mediocre experience at best. It wasn’t until I started playing it with a couple of friends that Among Us became more captivating than I thought it would be.
The game begins with 4-10 players on a spaceship. At the start of the game, players are given one of two roles: a Crewmate or an Imposter. Crewmates are given set tasks to complete around the ship in order to keep it running. They are also simultaneously looking out for an Imposter: a player who is sabotaging the ship and killing crewmates, all while trying to protect their identity. If a Crewmate stumbles upon a dead body, they are given the opportunity to report it and launch a timed discussion forum with all active players to talk amongst themselves and determine who the Imposter could possibly be. Meanwhile the Imposter must lie themselves out of seeming suspicious and convince the others they are innocent. At the end of the meeting, all players cast their votes for who they think the Imposter is. If the Imposter is caught, the game ends. If they aren’t, the game continues.
Soon after my first play, after-school hours were consumed with Among Us Facetime calls with friends. But oftentimes I would play on random servers, where I conversed with people from around the world. Before a game started, the chat would bloom with names of countries spanning the globe: Russia, Canada, Italy, Brazil. I was fascinated, to say the least. The pandemic has put all of our lives on a pause, yet there was a platform where I could talk to people about school, about music, about sports.
I’ve come to realize that the true beauty of Among Us is its simplicity. The cartoony style of the characters echoes the low-budget graphics of games we used to play when we were kids, reminding us that we’re never too old to have games on our iPhones. The quirky sound effects add to the suspense of the game, making it feel like you’re solving a real crime. And the objective, although taken on by many video games in the past, remains as a mission that we’ll never quite get sick of.
After a tumultuous 2020, I never expected to find a way to connect with my friends the way I did before. But Among Us, through its simplicity, suspense, and nostalgic feel, brought a smile on my face during tough times. And through this experience, I think we’ve all learned that even a simple mobile app can create unity — unity among us.