This deceptively simple game has taken over most of my online spaces and I’m totally here for it.
With a whopping reported 3 million concurrent players, Among Us is fast becoming one of the most popular games in recent times.
Maybe you’ve seen fanart of the characters. Maybe you’ve seen the Impostor memes which are seemingly everywhere, in every single fandom. Maybe a YouTube channel you regularly watch has done a livestream or two of Among Us.
Whatever the case, here’s a basic Among Us primer (so you can be in on the joke too), along with some of the reasons that might have made Among Us so popular.
What Is Among Us?
If you’re over 40, you’ve probably been to a murder mystery dinner party. If you’re under 40, you probably know how to follow a link to the term ‘murder mystery dinner party’ (or something thereabouts).
If you need a simpler version: There’s a murderer, and nobody but them knows who they are. The idea is to discover who the killer is before they kill everyone.
Well, Among Us is like that – but in space.
The murderer is called ‘The Impostor’, and the crew of the spaceship has tasks to do. There can be more than one Impostordepending on the game settings, but for the purposes of this article, we’re mostly going to assume there’s only one Impostor. If the crew completes the tasks before The Impostorkills most of them (i.e. if the number of crewmates is equal to or lower than the number of Impostors) then the crew wins. If they don’t, then The Impostor wins.
The tasks that the crew needs to do are shown in the form of minigames. The crew can also continue with tasks after they’ve been murdered, in ghost form. Conversely, The Impostorcan call the crew away from their tasks by threatening the life support on the ship, such as sabotaging the oxygen tanks.
Any member of the crew can call a group meeting, either by calling them all together via a comms box in the cafeteria or whenever they discover a fresh corpse. When either of these things happen, the crew can vote to push someone out of an airlock. Whoever gets the most votes goes out the airlock. If the crew’s all clued up, then they’ll guess who The Impostor is. If not, then they’ve just killed an innocent crewmate and made things easier for The Impostor.
That’s it – that’s the entire game.
Simpler than Minecraft, and apparently more addictive than popping bubblewrap.
BUBBLEWRAP FILLED WITH COCAINE.
(I don’t know if cocaine is actually addictive, and I’m not looking it up because I don’t want to go on some list, so let’s just pretend it is.)
But Why Is Among Us So Popular?
Obviously, I don’t know the logistics of what makes a game like Among Us so popular. You can tell because I’m not a multi-millionaire game designer.
But there are two particular things that probably allowed it to flourish.
Low System Requirements
Unlike many modern games, it doesn’t require a beast of a computer to run. Here’s the official minimum system requirements taken from the Steam store:
OS: Windows 7 SP1+
Processor: SSE2 instruction set support
Memory: 1 GB RAM
DirectX: Version 10
Storage: 250 MB available space
It doesn’t even have recommended system requirements – it doesn’t need them.
Here’s the same thing in non-geek terms:
If you have Windows 7 or Windows 10 installed on your computer (including non-gaming laptops and notebooks), you can probably play Among Us on it.
This is great, because not all of us have literally thousands of dollars to throw at our gaming PCs every other year.
But of course, it’s not just available on PC…
Not only is Among Us also available for Android and iOS phones, it also features cross-play – meaning I could, for example, play it on my PC while my wife and kids play it on their phones.
Regular readers might remember an article I did about the freakish-yet-wholesome webseries The Guild, and how happy I am that their channel is active again. That’s actually how I came across Among Us proper, by watching their uploaded livestream of the game. The (quite long) video directly above this section title is them, cross-playing the game.
If you watch the video, I’d like you to note two things:
– The cross-play is almost flawless, the only differences seem to be in the user interface designs
– I will forever feel guilt at being genuinely entertained by watching the ordinarily-wholesome Felicia Day almost lose her shit.
Something Else That May Have Made Among Us So Popular
Perhaps there’s another reason that this game is resonating with the world at the moment. Many of us have noticed certain hateful elements of society coming out of hiding.
Maybe there’s someone you’ve been lifelong friends with, that now shares hate-filled memes on facebook. Maybe there’s someone in your Discord group who keeps posting ‘edgy’ content because it’s ‘funny’. Maybe you’ve watched someone you once loved turn into the kind of person that would lose World War II.
These people, who appear to be people you knew, but act in ways that you never thought possible of them, seem to be impostors. It’s hard to accept that this is the cost of free will.
Perhaps that’s why the game’s so popular – because there is definitely a global feeling that there are impostors among us, and perhaps this game gives an unintentional voice to that fear. More than that, perhaps it’s accidentally training us in how to spot these types of people.
I like to believe it’s the low system requirements that have made Among Us so popular though – because that’s much less scary.