What is ‘Among Us’ and why is everybody playing it?

Published September 30, 2020, 6:49 PM

by Kerry Tinga

In 2018, ‘Among Us’ saw less than 1,000 concurrent players. In Sept. 2020, this number peaked at 3.5 million

It seems like every week there is a new activity that people are obsessed with during quarantine. This past month has seen an immense surge in downloads and playtime of the online, space-themed game Among Us.

There is nothing spectacular about a new, popular game, except for the fact that it is not new at all. Among Us was originally published in 2018 by a three-person team to little mainstream fanfare. Through the power of social media, it has become a surprise quarantine hit.

What is Among Us?

Among Us is an online, multiplayer game that takes place on a spaceship. The gameplay is similar to Mafia, a.k.a. Werewolf, a.k.a Secret Hitler, a.k.a myriad names that are essentially the same game. If you don’t know what that means, just ignore what I said and read the next few paragraphs. If you do know what I mean, you can skip to the next section.

In Among Us, players are either a Crewmate, who has to complete tasks around the spaceship, or an Imposter, who pretends to be a Crewmate to sabotage and kill the rest of the Crew.

Players can join on a local or online server. They can play with people they know by sharing a code or can join games with strangers. The games can have four to 10 total players, with one to three of those players acting as Imposters.

The ultimate goal of the Crewmate is to figure out who the Imposter is. Every time a dead body is reported, everybody votes on who the Imposter is. Meanwhile, the Imposter’s goal is to try to take out the whole Crew, pretending he is part of the Crew the whole time.

How popular is Among Us?

Among Us was first published in 2018 by the three-person team at InnerSloth, an independent, American video game developer. 

In its first year, the game never saw more than 1,000 concurrent players. This month, it was reported by Screenrant that Among Us saw 388,000 concurrent players on Steam, surpassing PUBG. This doesn’t even take into account the players who are on their phones, as Among Us is downloadable on both iOS and Android. On all devices, it is estimated that the game peaked at 3.5 million concurrent players in late September.

The delayed popularity of the game has been linked to the attention the game has gotten by popular streamers on Twitch and YouTube, including PewDiePie.

What does the popularity of Among Us mean?

On the surface, the popularity of Among Us means that there is a new game that will keep people entertained during this pandemic.

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Beyond that, if we look at the two-year history of this small David in a world of video game Goliaths, we can find hope in the power of the unassuming underdog. 

It seems that no matter what is thrown at us, some fundamental truths will always remain. Despite the pandemic and health restrictions, people still seek out other people, create connections, and be social. No matter how small or large an enterprise or operation is, so long as it understands the basic human condition it can rise above all these adversities.