Among Us – Critical Play

Among Us is a popular social deduction game created by Innersloth and Marcus Bromander. The game is available on multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Its target audience is everyone, but mostly Gen Z, and the game design – especially the character design – is simple and cartoonish, which adds to its charm.

The game is for 4-15 players and provides a unique experience where crewmates must complete tasks while also identifying and eliminating the imposters among them. It’s a social deduction game, similar to mafia in many ways (but unique in many others). The player interaction pattern involves cooperative play, where players cooperate against the game system to find and eliminate imposters. The game’s mechanics involve many actions that players can take, ensuring they are always intellectually and physcially engaged in completing tasks, moving around, etc. Imposters have the ability to kill crewmates and sabotage the ship, while the crewmates can report dead bodies and complete tasks to keep the ship running smothly. When a body is reported, a team meeting is called, and players can discuss and share their suspicions. If a player is killed, they can keep completing tasks as a ghost but cannot communicate with their team. The rounds in the game focus on completing tasks and identifying the imposters. The game fosters player relationships through the necessity of collaboration and communication. Players have to balance their individual objectives with the collective goal of the team. It’s interesting how players need to discuss with each other to deduce who the imposters are and how they are sabotaging the spaceship.

Unlike in Mafia, another popular game of the Social Deduction genre, Among Us does not have medics. Also, the digital platform of the game makes space for creative worldbuilding impossible in regular Mafia. It takes pressure off the individual players to craft an engaging narrative native to the game. Especially during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the digital form of this game allowed for a unique remote social experience. Thus, its digital nature is its superpower and led to its widespread use.

The game is fun because of its engaging gameplay mechanics and social elements. However, it can get repetitive over time. One suggestion for improving the game is to add customizations options that players can unlock by collecting points whenever they find an imposter. By establishing a point system, a visual hierarchy comes into place where players can see that the best dressed of them all are the ones who have been playing this game the longest. This incentivises people to keep playing and celebrates contiuous dedication to this game.

One part that confused me is there is an option to add pets to your avatar but no pets to choose from? I feel like the UI can be improved to make it easier to deduce how to get pets.

Overall, Among Us is a successful game that provides a fun and engaging social deduction experience for players. It’s a great example of how digital platforms can facilitate social interactions.

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