How Among Us Helped Us Cope With A Crisis
Online multiplayer games are enjoying the type of hype and resurgence that can only ever be created by exceptional circumstances. And to popular smash-hit multiplayer game Among Us, that set of circumstances was a ravaging hunger for human and social contact in a year of isolation. It’s a hunger that has managed to drive the number of people playing Among Us to the 100 million-mark.
The premise of the game is surprisingly simple given how superbly popular it has become. Among us is basically a game of Clue happening on a spaceship populated by between four and ten players – all of which fall into either of two categories: crewmates and imposters.
The crewmates are the good guys – taking care of tasks necessary to ensure a successful takeoff into space. The imposters, on the other hand, basically focus all their attention and energy on sabotaging operations in spectacular fashion while killing off other players.
There is however a point to the apparently senseless killing spree. Gamers also hold meetings to pick a suspect (suspected killer), which is where the connection with Clue originates from. And this if of course also the social connection.
Numbers Driven By The Void
Such is the massive popularity of Among Us that between first launch by U.S. games-maker InnerSloth in 2018, and May 2019, it was downloaded a whopping 1 million times. By the end of September 2020, which was of course months into a crisis of global proportions, the game saw an unbelievable 60 million people cross its doorpost every single day.
The catalyst for its phenomenal success was without a doubt its July 2020 debut on video and gaming streaming platform Twitch. Suddenly, high-profile gamers were all playing Among Us – and streaming their gaming sessions before an audience for the most part stuck in their homes and enjoying the platform as one of the highlight “events” of their day.
Why We Game In Difficult Times
Games like Among Us provide desperately needed social contact during times of challenge and managed isolation, explains Dr Peter Etchells, who is a Professor of Psychology and Science Communication at the UK-based Bath Spa University. Not only do they allow us to catch up with friends and acquaintances from the safety of our own homes, but they also help us get rid of frustration by blowing off steam.
What’s more, aside from the social element of the game, the dark tone present all throughout the Among Us storyline resonated with a lot of people as they continued to face uncertainty and fear, said Etchells.
Among Us literally made us feel as if we weren’t in this alone, after all.