“Red’s kinda sus.”
“Nah man, it has to be pink, pink’s always sus.”
“It wasn’t me! I promise, I’m not sus, you’re being sus!”
Every once in a while, a game comes around that impacts society enough to attract players from across different circles of popular culture. After all, it’s not very often that you see a sworn-in congresswoman playing alongside top creators on the streaming platform Twitch for millions of viewers.
After all, if AOC is playing your game, you’re probably doing something right. As we wrap up this semester, we want to give a shout-out to one of the biggest games of this year: “Among Us.”
A little history: When developer InnerSloth initially released the game on Android and iOS in June of 2018, “Among Us” gained little traction. However, in mid-2020, the online community rediscovered this multiplayer game amid social distancing guidelines, praising it as a virtual social outlet for both hardcore gamers and those just searching for a little online interaction. The game has racked up over 217 million mobile downloads since its launch — 41 million of those in September of 2020 alone.
Perhaps what has allowed “Among Us” to be so popular among those with varying levels of gaming experience is its straightforward gameplay. The premise is simple: After a group of players has assembled, up to 10 players are dropped into a virtual spaceship, and are assigned one of two roles: “crewmate” or “imposter.”
Crewmates are in charge of conducting a series of basic tasks aboard a ship. These range between destroying asteroids, emptying the trash and fixing a seemingly endless number of circuits and wires. When all the tasks are completed by each member of the crew, the crewmates win.
The catch? Every round, one to three random players are selected to be imposters. As an imposter, there is only one goal: Kill the crew.
Crewmates must either complete all of their collective tasks or figure out who the imposter is before it’s too late. Since the identity of the imposter is unknown to the crew, crewmates must use their intuition to determine who aboard the ship is acting suspicious (or, as “Among Us” regulars would say, who is acting “sus”).
If an imposter kills a crewmate, players can “report” discovered dead bodies to prompt a game-wide discussion, also known as a meeting. In these meetings, players can call out others for being either safe or “sus,” often backing up their claims with evidence — and sometimes with none at all.
This game-wide discussion is where “Among Us” shines above its competition in even the most highly-funded corners of the gaming world. While there is an in-game text chat feature, the complete “Among Us” experience comes from talking live with other players, either on Zoom, Discord or a similar independent platform.
Within live discussions, players have the chance to either expose their peers or go unnoticed in a room full of suspects. As a crewmate, players can choose to either relentlessly interrogate other members in the room or sit quietly and observe which stories don’t add up.
On the other hand, imposters must do their best to blend in with the crowd. There are several ways to do this: A good imposter may quietly pick off crewmates, while another may loudly make accusations to turn the crewmates against each other.
Whatever a player’s strategy may be, the experience of playing as an imposter is heart pounding. This both enhances and detracts from the game; while playing as a crewmate can be enjoyable, it doesn’t live up to the experience of playing as an imposter.
“Among Us” is fantastic because there is no ‘correct’ way to play it. A newcomer can quickly master the game and its strategy, and the low-to-no requirement for traditional gaming mechanics make the game more widely accessible than other, more rigorous games. Not only can your college roommate play with you, but your younger siblings, parents and even grandparents can join in as well.
While not boasting the most visually appealing user interface with its somewhat primitive graphics, “Among Us” is endearingly reminiscent of video games of the 1990s, such as “Super Mario World” (1990). Furthermore, its cartoon style is fitting with the popularized art of modern, successful video games; both “Overwatch” (2016) and “Fortnite” (2017), two of the most popular games of the past decade, share a similar color palette.
With many campus organizations organizing games for their members as a means to virtually bond with the group, “Among Us” has had an undoubtedly significant impact on the social scene at Tufts. The fast and smooth gameplay allows groups to complete many rounds in a short period of time, each one largely different from the last.