Among Us: A Guide to a Game’s Sudden Popularity

Among Us: A Guide to a Game's Sudden Popularity

Samantha Montalbine, Staff Writer

Among Us is a widely popular, multiplayer game that has somehow taken over the internet. But, what is Among Us, who made it, when was it made and how did the simple and unoriginal, two year old game become one of the most streamed games on Twitch out of seemingly nowhere?


What is Among Us and How do you Play? 

Among Us is a murder mystery party game that was created by the game developer company named Innersloth, on June 15th of 2018. The online social deduction game is another twist on Mafia, Werewolf, Secret Hitler, The Resistance and really any other game that surrounds the idea that secret murderers have to kill the innocents without being voted out, to win, dating back from 1980 and after. Among Us, however, puts a modern twist on the popular board or party game, making it both online and in space!

At the beginning of every Among Us round, the four to ten players are divided into one of two categories, being either a crewmate or imposter. Crewmates in Among Us are considered the “innocent,” players. Their goal is to try and survive, do their tasks, and both spot and vote out the imposters hidden within the crew during group meetings. Depending on the amount chosen prior to the start of the game, there can be one to three imposters. The goal of the imposter is to try and kill the crewmates, act innocent, sabotage, and not get voted out. 

What does this all mean? Well, unlike the previously named twists on the idea that made Among Us, Among Us actually gives an opportunity for the innocent team to win without having to just vote out the imposters. Around the map of each game, there are a variety of tasks that serve the purpose of breaking up the groups so that the imposters have a better chance of getting a few kills in. However, if all the crewmates finish their quick, short and long tasks that were assigned to them, not only do they move up the task bar, but they also instantly win the game. Until then, however, their goal, in addition to doing their tasks, is to try and survive and spot out to vote out the imposters. This can be accoplishlised by trying to find innocent players to stick with by either watching them do a visual task (one that makes a visible animation when in use), watching if the task bar moves when they do a task, or by randomly following someone and hoping they don’t kill you. Or, you can try and go to what’s called the security room, which can be located on your map, and watch the cameras to see if anyone kills or is acting suspicious in the camera’s view. If they look suspicious, you can try calling an emergency meeting, or if you find a dead body, you can report it to call a meeting.

During the meetings, the chat opens up and everyone is allowed to talk out their thoughts, say where the body was and who they’re suspicious of. My personal favorite way to play the game is by going on a call with friends and staying unmute until a meeting is called, but the game provides an in-game chat box for meetings. During the meeting, you have the choice of either voting one of the alive players to possibly be thrown off the spaceship, skyscraper floor or surface of the purple planet, or you can skip. However, before you skip, you need to keep in mind that if there’s the same amount of crewmates left as imposters, the imposters instantly win.

What do the imposters do? Well, the imposters have a much larger variety of options during the game. Although they can’t physically do tasks like crewmates, they can try and fake them by standing in front of one of the map’s tasks to try and throw crewmates off. But that’s not all, they can also kill crewmates, call emergency meetings, report bodies, use vents and sabotage. In addition to the report button crewmates have, imposters have the kill, vent and sabotage buttons. To kill someone, all they need to do is walk near a person and, when the button lights up and their kill cooldown (a timer that counts down at the beginning of every game or everytime after you’ve killed someone) is done, press the button and flee the scene of the murder, or, if they’re risky, self report. A quick way to escape quickly is to use vents. The vent button, only available when an imposter is next to a vent, allows the murder to hop inside and jump to other parts of the map without having to be caught walking from the direction of the dead body.

Lastly, the sabotage button, possibly the coolest part about being imposter, brings five options to mess with, and possibly beat, the players. The sabotage button, when pressed, opens up the map but with a variety of buttons. The majority of buttons are doors. When pressed, they close the doors of the room you pressed on the map, which can be used to trap a crewmate in to be easily killed, or put suspicion on other players. The lights button is the first of the four crises available. What it does is, simply put, turns off the lights so the crewmates can’t see if you kill someone or flee the scene, you not doing your tasks or even coming to kill them. This crisis can be fixed by going into the most dangerous room, electrical, and turning back on the light switch. Next is comms, which until the dial is turned to match the wavelength of the presented one in the task, all tasks and maps cannot be seen nor done, practically halting the progress of the game for the crewmates. The most commonly used is O2, which depletes the oxygen of the spaceship and requires two passcodes to be typed in both the admin and oxygen room. Lastly, and my favorite, is the reactor crisis, which is located on the furthest left side of the map, and requires two players to scan their hand to turn off. If no one fixes either the oxygen or reactor crises before the timer runs out, the imposters instantly win. Also, all four crises make it so that emergency buttons can’t be pressed. 

The game Among Us is very fun and, although it seems complex on paper, is really simple once you get used to it. It’s free on the smartphone but is $5 and adless on Steam. The game allows characters to dress up in hats, free outfits if you’re using steam, and pets, if purchased. 


How was the Game Made?

Among Us was developed by the game developing company known as Innersloth. Made in 2018, the Washington-based company consists of three members, Forest Bass, Marcus Bromander and Amy Lui. The company worked on the games Among Us, Dig 2 China and the Henry Stickman Collection, with Bass as the company’s businessman and programmer, Bromander as an artist and game designer, and Lui as an artist and its merchandise person. 

Originally, Among Us was made and published under the name “spacemafia,” with the intent of only being a mobile app to play with friends on one map, called Skeld. The game had roughly only thirty to fifty players a day, due to the company’s lack of marketing, and at that point, most developers would’ve moved onto the next thing. However, InnerSloth decided to work off their savings and continue to improve the game for their small audience, introducing new tasks, an online lobby feature and two new maps, originally requiring money to play, releasing the skyscraper based map Mira HQ, in August of 10 2019, and the purple planet map called Plotus in November that year, both being later changed to free. The game was brought to steam in November of 2018, although it was not as nearly as popular as it is today, until the summer of 2020.


Why did it Suddenly Become Popular?

The simple, remade game had become popular almost out of nowhere, pushing away the growing Fall Guys hype and in turn, taking over the internet. The game filled every social media platform imaginable with fanarts, cosplays, memes and more, obtaining hundreds of thousands of viewers on live streams and becoming Twitch’s number one streamed game for some time. But, how did this unoriginal game get so popular in the first place?

Although it’s up for conversation, most people believe that Twitch streamers known as xQc, Sodapoppin and SR_Kaif are to blame. SR_Kaif was one of the first streamers to actively stream the game, streaming it at least once a month to his two thousand viewers, starting in January of this year. Following him, in July, streamer Sodapoppin, who had been popular for over eight years already, started streaming the game and officially started to get everyone’s eyes on it. Initially followed by the famous Overwatch streamer named xQc, famous creators followed in Sodapoppin’s footsteps, including Pewdiepie, Pokimane, Disguised Toast, Ninja, and Call Me Carson. As a result, hundreds of streamers and YouTubers then followed, making their own videos and streams of the game that helped creators, such as Corpse Husband on YouTube, grow popular.  

In addition to it being so widely streamed, people also started playing the game due to its availability and friendly environment. The game is free for mobile users and only $5 on steam, only requiring 1 GB of RAM and 250mb of hard drive space to run, meaning it’s not hard to get at all. The game itself requires absolutely no skill to play, making it open to nonplayers and non-Americans, thanks to its ability to be played in English, Portugese, Spanish or Korean. Due to this availability and the fact that lobbies can be held across platforms, people quarantined all around the world were given an opportunity to play games with their friends by doing nothing more than typing in a lobby’s numeric code. This availability really helped boost the game in areas like Brazil, South Korea and Mexico even more than in the United States, allowing everyone to have fun with their friends from home, or even make new ones, if playing in public lobbies. 


What’s Next?

Due to its sudden popularity, Innersloth had originally decided to make Among Us 2, as the game was already two years old and held so much potential. However, they decided to instead return to the original game and work on updating that instead. The team is currently working on making servers better, colorblind support through the addition of new colors, tasks and ways to tell players apart, a friend/account system, and a new map based around one of the creator’s own games, Henry the Stickman. The team is also working on bringing a Rocket League based communication system so that they can release the game on the PS4 and XBox One. Although most games, like Fall Guys, seem to grow old very quickly, Among Us is not done and has much more to offer in the future.