The video game that I chose for my first Critical Play is Among Us!, a cross-platform (iOS, Android, PC, Nintendo Switch, Play Station, XBox) game developed by InnerSloth LLC. The target audience is not explicitly listed from my searches. However, based on the structure of the game itself, I can infer that the intended audience are players from Board-Game/Strategic/Mystery groups.
Among Us allows a good range of players, 4-15, where each player has the potential of taking the role of a Crew Member or an Impostor – there can only be a max of 3 Impostors in a relatively large session. As a Crew Member, players can complete crew member tasks of maintaining, repairing areas on the ship via puzzles or smaller challenges. On the other hand, as an impostor, players can sabotage the ship and prompt crew members to focus on fixing the ship while the Impostor can plot their next victim.
In a given round, a round is composed of players exploring the ship while completing their tasks until a death is reported, or until all crew members die. After a death is reported, then players gather on a time chatting session, after which they must place a vote on who is the Impostor, or skip a vote.
Connecting this game to previous lessons learned in class and from our reading of Formal Elements, this game is a combination of outwit and capture objectives, where the relationship among players is more team vs. team (crew members vs. impostors), and crew members have tasks to complete, or impostors can sabotage tasks subtly, as leverage to attempt to remain on the ship and not be voted out.
Compare game chosen to others in genre, I like to think of this game as a board game turned digital in a clever way. For instance, the layout of the game is such that any players are able to play with anyone online – it is not necessary to have a team already in order to join. In contrast, board games (e.g. Mafia, etc.) have a specific number of students as a requirement prior to playing.
I would say that this game is better than the similar games – Secret Hitler, Mafia. Players are limited in their communication via text – communication moderation, etc. In-person gaming sessions or other platforms aren’t communication safe when it comes to swearing.
Screenshots of game
Link: Among Us