“Among Us” connects U-High students while socially distant

Lab+students+play+%22Among+Us%22+while+talking+through+Zoom.+Discussion+and+strategy+is+a+critical+part+of+the+game+in+trying+to+figure+out+who+the+impostor+is.

Malcolm Taylor

Lab students play “Among Us” while talking through Zoom. Discussion and strategy is a critical part of the game in trying to figure out who the impostor is.

Berk Oto, Managing Editor

Fixing circuitry, uploading data and emptying garbage may seem like mundane everyday tasks, but in the video game “Among Us” players dressed as aliens in goggles and colorful hats complete these tasks while trying to root out murderous imposters to keep their spaceship running smoothly.

Like millions of teenagers around the world, U-High students have turned to the online indie video game “Among Us” to connect with their friends while remaining socially distant, and its appeal is not limited to traditional gamers. 

In a round of “Among Us,” 4 to 10 players are put onto a spaceship and designated as either a crewmate or an imposter. Crewmates complete tasks around the ship while trying to avoid getting killed by the imposters. If they suspect a player of being an imposter, crewmates can convene meetings to vote them off the ship. The imposters’ goal is to stay alive until the end.

Ninth grader Alma Francez and junior Katie Baffa both said they enjoy that the game resets after every round, putting veterans and novices on equal footing. The simplicity of the game also makes it more accessible to a larger audience.

“What I like about it is how simple it is to grasp and play,” Alma said. “It’s also strategic and fun. You have to think about what you’re doing, but not that hard.”

“Among Us” is more similar in style to a party game than other online video games, thus attracting a wider audience.

“I’m definitely not a gamer,” junior Katie Baffa said. “But I really like that ‘Among Us’ is based on communication and strategy. Not only am I playing a video game, but I’m also hanging out with my friends. It’s more like a board game that way.”

Although “Among Us” can be played online with strangers from around the world, most students prefer playing it with a group of friends.

“I have a group chat of about 10 friends who I play it with,” Katie said. “We probably play for a couple hours five days a week, anytime during the day when we’re all available. What was surprising to me was that I got closer to a lot of people who I probably wouldn’t have met with otherwise.”

While “Among Us” was created by the indie game company InnerSloth in 2018, it didn’t begin gaining popularity until July. Many students attribute its sudden surge in mainstream popularity to the desire for ways to preserve casual communication between friends.

Part of the appeal now is just that it’s a way to replicate the sort of microcommunications we would have with our friends in the halls, after school or lunch.”

— Alma Francez

“Part of the appeal now is just that it’s a way to replicate the sort of microcommunications we would have with our friends in the halls, after school or lunch,” Alma said. “Honestly, we don’t just talk about the game. That’s definitely part of it but most times we’re just catching up, hanging out and talking about life.”

Mainstream influencers took notice of the game’s sizable young audience and started streaming it to boost their brands or spread a social message. Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar attracted over 400,000 concurrent viewers to their Twitch livestream to promote their get-out-the-vote campaign on Oct. 20.

Because of the increase in the number of people searching for a way to virtually connect with friends, “Among Us” attracted many unlikely gamers, including those who could never have imagined themselves being so attached to a video game.

“When my sister first told me to join, I made fun of her,” Katie said. “I’m not gonna spend hours in front of a computer screen alone in the dark. I have a life.”

Since her initial introduction to the game, Katie became a sort of evangelist for the game, converting many of her reluctant friends into avid players.

Katie said, “A lot of my friends had a similar reaction when I asked them to download the game, but all of us have really enjoyed it. It’s probably made me more open-minded about video games overall.”