Murder: Is This The New Quarantine Obsession?

Written By Jaya Iyer, Reporter

“Dead body reported.” This simple announcement immediately reaches everyone throughout every corner of the spaceship. The nine remaining comrades halt in their steps and abandon their tasks to gather together for an emergency meeting regarding their slaughtered crewmate. “Who is sus?” Green asks. “Blue was faking a common task. That is extremely sus,” Pink says. “Vote Blue,” Purple chimes in. Before he has time to defend himself, the whole crew has voted, and Blue finds himself being hurled out of the window into space. Victory!

The Among Us emergency meeting where the imposter is voted on.

As you may have already figured out, this is an example of a round of one of the current most popular games available to download on your device, Among Us. To learn about some behind the scenes information you most likely never knew, keep reading until the end. For those who have never played before, Among Us is an online game that takes place on a spaceship where players are randomly assigned one of two positions: crewmate or imposter. Crewmates must complete assigned tasks to keep the spaceship running while an imposter secretly kills off people. In order to win as crewmate, one must determine who the imposter is or finish their tasks before everyone is killed. The imposter (of which there can be a total of three), must kill crewmates without being spotted or sabotage necessities in the spaceship that will kill everyone if not repaired in time. Vents on the ground in every room provide secret hiding places for imposters and allow them to transport into other rooms unnoticed. When a dead body is found or something suspicious raises flags, meetings are called to discuss in the chat who the imposter might be. Everyone votes, and whoever receives the most votes is kicked off of the spaceship and returns as a ghost invisible to the others who are still alive.  

Though most players know the majority of this basic information, many do not know who created Among Us or when, how it first became popular, or how the creators initially came up with the idea for the game. Among Us was produced by the company InnerSloth, which consists of programmer Forest Willard, artist and designer Marcus Bromander, and artist Amy Liu. In an interview with Escapist Magazine, Bromander said, “I thought about a way to bring (Mafia) to a mobile party game setting and pitched it to the others.” It was released in the Apple App Store on June 15, 2018. The initial spark was lit in Korea after a Korean Youtuber began playing the game for his thousands of subscribers, encouraging the InnerSloth team to continue to improve it. After this, no new players fueled the flame to keep the fire spreading—that is, until the pandemic hit. 

The social isolation and boredom caused by the pandemic’s restrictions forced people to find new methods of entertainment and ways to hang out with friends while in quarantine. Lots of young kids and teens resorted to their phones and computers. According to  The New York Times, one day during the summer of the pandemic, a Twitch streamer started playing to try to find a way to engage his audience. It worked. Popular YouTubers and TikTokers caught on in an effort to continue putting out content to their millions of followers when ideas began to run short due to the pandemic. Suddenly, teens everywhere decided to try playing it themselves and discovered that they could play with their friends while in separate houses. 

Just by walking around campus at school after the semester began one could easily determine this game’s trendiness. During every break, groups of Upper School students sit together with their phones in their hands, conversing about the game; so naturally, it was not too difficult to find students to interview. In an effort to dig deeper about the growing popularity of Among Us, students were asked where they heard about it. Many students learned about it from siblings or friends who were already playing, while others were inspired by YouTubers or people in their Discord servers. Some first saw it in the App Store recommended section. One student in particular, Calvin Ehrenberg ‘24 said, “I learned about it from InnerSloth, who I follow.” InnerSloth has made many other games that people enjoy, as well, which has helped Among Us with its visibility and popularity.

The Among Us imposter’s name is shown in red.

Just having a game known throughout the world is not enough to keep people playing it. They have to be hooked by a certain aspect, and students shared the bait that lured them towards Among Us. “I’ve always loved Murder Mystery type games, such as Clue and Mafia, and the way Among Us is programmed and the general way people play perfectly fits the murder-mystery genre,” Colman Freno ‘23 said. Bringing in a different perspective, Ryan Samii ‘24 said, “I enjoy playing because it is a game that I can play with my friends. There are not many games with similar qualities to play with friends, and it is a fun concept.” Adding to Samii’s opinion about the social interaction the game offers, Elaine Tang ‘23 said, “It’s a fun game to play with people online when you can’t gather together because of the virus.” Aaron Logan ‘23 is also drawn in by the participatory characteristics of Among Us. “I like the interaction with people and the joy of figuring out who the imposter is,” Logan said. For Kristie Shams ‘24, uniting and involving people everywhere with one another proves to be her main focus. Shams said, “I enjoy playing it because it helps bring the community together. I play with this discord server I mod for, and bringing the community together is a primary goal for me, so this game has really helped with that.”

The Among Us wires task.

Evidently, Among Us has become a bit of a harmless addiction in the Latin Upper School community. Due to the many hours spent exploring strategies and attempting to implement them with their friends, many students have discovered their own methods to win. “Player A names themselves ‘dog’ and player B names themselves ‘o.’ You stand on top of each other so that it looks like one player. When the impostor kills one of them, the other reports,” Brian Dong ‘24 said. Joy Boakye ‘23 uses a tactic more familiar with Among Us users. “If you’re the imposter, turn off lights, head into electrical, go to the back then wait for someone to come in and kill them and vent but if someone reports, blame it on them. Your defense should be the lights were off, so how could you see it was me?” Boakye ‘23 said. According to Zachary Warmath ‘24, he uses the best AFK (away from keyboard) strategy. “You pretend not to be playing when you are the imposter and kill someone without moving. People will come to the conclusion that you are being framed and won’t vote you out,” Warmath ‘24 said. Samii ‘24 said, “If you are the impostor and playing with a friend who has a visual task, murder them and have them do the visual task for you so you are clear of suspicion.” As someone who is very skilled in the game, Shams ‘24 offered lots of advice. “Take advantage of certain aspects in the game. For example, common tasks are shared by everyone, so if you catch someone trying to fake a common task that’s not actually assigned to you, it’s quite obvious that it’s them. On top of that, randomly asking someone, ‘How many wires have you done?’ when that’s not the actual common task can lead them to giving a rushed and panicked answer that gives them away. Memorizing the vents on each map is useful since it helps decide whether or not someone could’ve vented. Take advantage of the fact that the screen is completely covered during some tasks. For example, on MiraHQ the downloading task completely covers your screen, and you can perform a very quick vent kill and have a very strong alibi. Taking note of which tasks are multipart and which ones cause the bar to go up is also important. I once caught someone doing the second part of diverting power as soon as the game started, which is physically impossible to do at the start,” Shams ‘24 said.

Whether being played seriously or just used to fool around with friends, Among Us seems to be the new game taking over. The InnerSloth company has a lot of work to do in order to keep up with the massive number of players joining. Among Us 2 has been cancelled, as confirmed in an interview with CNN, so that the focus can stay on adding updates and new features to this game. Whatever the reason is for this new obsession, the positive outcomes are that this small, three-member team has gained recognition for their dedication and hard work, and people around the world have a new source of entertainment during a pandemic. 

Overall, Among Us seems to be a great way to let off some steam after a long, stressful day at school. Who knew murder could be so fun and relaxing? If you have not already, you should definitely give it a try (in the game, of course!) Good luck, and remember to always watch your back.