For my first critical play analysis, I chose the game Among Us, developed by Inner Sloth LLC. Among us is offered on a variety of platforms from consoles like Xbox, Play Station, and Nintendo Switch to PC and mobile also. It is also interesting that they have the ability for cross platform play among all of their mediums. This truly opens up who you can play the game with which is important considering the social deduction aspect that the game revolves around.
The cartoony style aesthetics makes the assumption that the intended audience is younger. Preteen and teenagers specifically. However, there was a time over the pandemic where the game seemed to go viral and be played by people of all ages. It even became memefied making it grow even larger in popularity. It is interesting that during the pandemic, a time of extremely limited social interaction, a game like among us was able to rise in popularity. This however can be analyzed and explained when looking at the game’s mechanics and dynamics.
A game of Among Us consists of 4-15 players with the overall goal of the game being to keep the spaceship together and survive. The twist is that there are imposters among the crew that are trying to kill everyone. The crew wins by ejecting imposters or completing the tasks on the ship. The imposters win by killing the crew. Each round the crew goes about trying to complete tasks whilst imposters try to secretly kill crew members. Meetings can be called to talk over events that had occurred and people can be voted to be ejected off the ship. This could be considered a team vs team style game with crew vs imposters. However there is almost more of a player vs player element seeing as you only know your role. Thus, it is largely you versus the words of others in an attempt to fight for your team. The overall goals of this game are largely social – outwitting the other players. The boundaries of the game also seem to extend beyond just the mobile interface. When playing with my friends, the level of trust I had with certain people or things I knew about them affected how I played the game. For example, I know a certain tell when one of my friends is potentially lying and could hear that in our discussions. This affected how I saw and played the game.
This game was fun because there felt like there was a good synthesis between actual gameplay mechanics (completing tasks on the ship) and a social conversation that ensued. I’m not sure if this would be effective (must be prototyped) but playing around with a simplified version of abilities on top of the existing game might be interesting. Giving both crew and imposter some level of special abilities may add more of an individualistic element to the game.