By Henry Perazza – Co Arts and Entertainment Editor
Over the past 6.5 months, people have had to come up with new ways to substitute for many day-to-day activities. How to go to work, attend classes, buy groceries, or even just mowing the lawn now has anywhere from several extra precautions to complete redesigns. As for a manner of safety, those solutions range from good to fine, but all of them took a bit longer to get used to then we all would have liked. So after the quarantine and social distancing when far longer than anyone could have originally anticipated, a question began to burn into the minds of the reclusive – how do we see our extended family and friends? How can we be safe and still be social creatures? What options do we have?
Aside from social distancing, that’s where games and streaming services have really begun to shine. Online viewing and gaming is nothing new, not in the slightest. Ever since the turn of the century, companies have been trying to push the boundaries of collective experiences through online platforms. Programs like Skype, Teamspeak, and their successors with programs Discord allow for one-to-one chatting and personal interaction through the computer, while movies can be streamed from just about anything thanks to the variety of streaming programs.
But there was a difference. Playing with people online was different than just holding a conversation and interacting naturally, without the umbrella of a game or movie that is taking most of your attention. Where could the quarantined people find a balance between fun distraction and casual socialization in the year of 2020?
Enter: “Among Us”.
A game from 2018, Among Us is an online social deduction style of game by the game studio InnerSloth. If you’ve ever played a game like “Town of Salem” or “Mafia”, you should know generally how this game is played. One or two “imposters” are running about trying to kill everyone, and the remaining crew mates (in a single game of up to ten players) need to figure out who they are, while convincing all their other comrades that they are in fact the imposter. The players can’t interact while a meeting, something the players can call by hitting a button or whenever a corpse is found, is not being held, so every player must work on their argument building skills, else risk the dire consequences. Additionally, the crew can do individual tasks and put the dangerous duo on a clock, forcing them to act before all the tasks are done and the crew automatically wins.
This game was unearthed at potentially the best time it could have. As I mentioned, the game was created back in 2018, and InnerSloth had shifted focus on wrapping up their popular “Henry Stickman” series as well as a sequel for “Among Us” – looking to make some changes and see if they can add a little more spice into the gameplay. As it stands, “Among Us” is entirely reliant on social interaction, and with no ingame voice feature, only a simple text chat, it can lead to games getting very repetitive, very fast. As of such, this game is best enjoyed with friends or a group you know, with all of you able to get on a group call using some form of outside source.
But that’s where one of the best reasons for the game’s second life springs from the ashes: it’s an excellent game for content creation. Streamers playing with their friends, groups in public chats or servers, interacting with e-celebrities as everyone tries to deduce the case and see through the eyes of one person, and enjoy the hilarity that can ensue with many others. The nature of the game makes it very applicable to these types of situations, and can permit new groups and scenarios to get together when nobody else thought possible. For instance, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a political representative of New York and youngest elected politician ever, streamed this game with several streamers with the largest following to broadcast her message, answer potential questions, as well as to have a good time with the community of americans she had been serving for the past two years (and potentially two more).
“Among Us” isn’t that complex or hard to learn, and most of the game consists of talking with your friends, both during and between rounds. It’s because of that that this game hit the mainstream, not requiring as much preoccupation as other trends such as “Fall Guys” or the steady rerelease of the “Halo” series. It gives the players an excuse to just get on a call and talk with friends, initiating conversations repeatedly and frequently. That alone is admirable in a current global landscape where talking with friends is not something guaranteed from one slow day to the next.