Among Us is a game that has been around since 2018, but has recently had a massive spike in popularity. Like many games, there are ways it can be played safely and can be a bit of fun, but it can also expose younger people to some of the usual perils of online gaming.
How do you play Among Us?
Among Us is a multiplayer online game where the aim is to uncover the “imposter” who is someone that has been chosen randomly to kill the other players. The players therefore work either as the crew completing tasks on the ship, or the imposter, trying to murder the crew. The players must report any “kills” and then deduce who is responsible for the killings. You will hear the word “Sus” repeatedly as players try to expose those players they ‘suspect’ as the imposter. There can also be more than one imposter in a game. If enough people believe someone is the imposter they vote that person and they can be ejected out of the airspace. Players can also call meetings to discuss suspects at any time and suspects then have the opportunity to try and prove their innocence. It is a game that requires a lot of interaction and teamwork in order to uncover the betrayal. Games can include 4-10 players and players can be known or unknown depending on whether the game is public or private.
The graphics are pretty basic compared to many other games out there, so not at all detailed or realistic but rather very cartoonish.
What Ages is it suitable for?
The game is primarily for younger teens but obviously played by all ages. Commonsensemedia.org have rated it as 10+ and it is rated 9+ in the app store.
What are the pitfalls of playing Among Us?
The team element of this particular game can lead to some collaboration, but this can also lead to “ganging up” and bullying behaviours. Players can all decide to vote against one member just to be mean however this can also ruin the whole object of the game.
Once someone is reported as dead, the other players have the opportunity to chat. If it is a public game you are therefore talking to randoms and people of all ages.
Whenever you play an online game publicly, you are exposing yourself to strangers, possibly profanity and bad language, nasty comments and sexual innuendo.
There has also been recent reports of spam, cheating and hacking of the game which the creators have been trying to fix.
Spam and Advertising can also be sent to chat logs.
How can it be played in the safest way?
By playing a private game with only those people you know, you are able ot avoid exposure to strangers. Most people actually prefer playing with people they know as there is a lot of banter about trying to trick each other and work out who is the best liar.
Parents can help their kids set up groups of friends to play. When playing a private game you send the code to your friends so only they can enter.
Filters can also now be used to curb the swearing and you can block the chat. (this however goes against the collaborative nature of the game so better to just make private games).
How much does it cost?
It is free for the mobile version and around $5 dollars for the desktop.
You can also make purchases of things like pets, skins and hats, however these do not aid in any way to the game playing.
You can also pay a small fee of $2 to remove ads.
What are the positives of playing Among Us?
The very social nature of the game makes it a good one for 2020 as there is a lot of interaction and banter between players. The “fun” and somewhat “silly” nature of the game can make it a good stress reliever.
It can also be a good game to play as a family as it is also appealing to adults.
It doesn’t require a lot of dexterity or high levels of concentration like some of the other games out there, so it can be a simple entry level game.
It is available on both iOS and Android and you can cross play with people over those different systems.
How long do the games last?
Games are pretty quick at about 10 minutes each so many games can be played in a sitting! This can also lead to those obsessive behaviours as kids appeal for “just one more!”
Who is playing?
There are now millions of people playing Among Us, including many young kids who came on board during lockdowns as a way to connect with friends. And a recent twitch recording of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in which she also uses the opportunity to urge Americans to register to vote, was viewed by around half a million live twitch users.
Like many games, Among Us can be played in safe ways but of course this depends on the people playing the game and how respectful they are of each other. It also can depend on the maturity of your individual child and how they cope with the effects of gaming. If in doubt have a game with them or watch other people playing first to decide if this is something you think is appropriate for your child.