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Multicolored characters from Among Us coming out of a phone with a spaceship theme

Among Us: The Viral Video Game Your Kid Can’t Stop Playing, Explained

by | Oct 21, 2020 | Culture & Media, Kids and Technology | 4 comments

Have your kids gone wild for Among Us? If so, they’re not alone! This mobile and PC game has skyrocketed to the top of the app download charts over the past few weeks, making Fortnite seem like a distant memory.

Among Us is a digital take on classic who-done-it party games like Mafia and Werewolf (or, if those don’t ring a bell, the classic board game Clue). In this blog post, we’ll break down everything you need to know — from what it’s all about to potential safety concerns that are important for parents to understand. (P.S. We can help you set up some screen time limits if you want to restrict your kid’s Among Us use to after school hours.)

How It’s Played

Designed for 4 to 10 players, Among Us is a murder mystery game set on a spaceship. Players are assigned roles as either good guys (crewmates) or bad guys (imposters), with crewmates fulfilling basic ship upkeep tasks and imposters sabotaging the ship and killing crewmates. When tensions rise or a body is found, players assemble in emergency meetings to discuss who the imposter is and vote to kick them out of the airlock and into outer space.

This is where the fun begins — players theorize about actual evidence like seeing a player in the same room, or even speculate about motives that have nothing to do with the game itself. (“You voted for me because you’re still mad I kicked you out the group chat”). If the crewmates manage to figure out who the imposter is, they win! If not, the imposter reigns victorious as they slowly wipe out the ship’s entire crew.

Decoding the Terms and Slang of Among Us

If your kid ever plays Among Us while voice chatting over Discord or Zoom, you may have noticed that it sounds like they’re speaking a different language at times. The game has several words/phrases that get repeated fairly frequently, so here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.

  • Sus: Short for “suspicious” — players will use this term a lot to call attention to another’s motives. Example: “You’ve been quiet the past few votes, that’s pretty sus.”
  • Vents: Players who are imposters can fast-travel through the game using air vents, something the other players can’t do.
  • Emergency meeting: Players can call a meeting at any time (but usually after a crewmate turns up dead) to jointly discuss and vote on potential imposters.
  • Skeld: This is the name of one of the maps users play on — it’s a spaceship.
  • Tasks: Much of the game is spent performing assigned duties around the ship, known as “tasks.” These activities keep the players moving around, providing alibis for imposters and opportunities for crewmates to gather evidence.
  • Cyan, blue, red, green, etc.: If you’re hearing random colors, these are often used as shorthand to identify a player instead of having to memorize usernames.

Potential Dangers Parents Should Know About 

Apart from the mildly violent nature of the game, the main danger facing kids as they search for imposters and complete their tasks is chatting. The game features a text chat capability for use during the emergency meetings to discuss who might be the imposter. A chat censor is available in the settings menu, but you can’t disable chatting entirely, so be aware that potentially inappropriate conversations could happen with strangers. Fortunately, the game is structured so that chats are seen by all players and don’t stay on the screen for long — the game moves fast, so there’s not a lot of time for conversation before it’s back to performing tasks.

Be aware that many players move to Discord or other voice chat platforms to use during the game, which has the potential for more in-depth conversations and potentially inappropriate content.

The safest way for your kid to play Among Us is for them to play locally, which means with people on the same Wi-Fi network. If that’s not an option, make sure they’re creating private games that require codes to play. There’s a public game option that lets you play with complete strangers, but we don’t advise this for kids. If you decide that Among Us is appropriate for your family, we recommend playing it all together so you can understand why it’s all the rage. Who knows, you may even have some fun with it, too!

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