On Tuesday, Oct. 20th, United States Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez live-streamed herself playing the popular game Among Us on Twitch to an audience of over 400,000 as part of her campaign. This unconventional approach has engaged Americans, specifically young adults, who have played this game religiously over quarantine.
“Being in quarantine, it’s really hard to reach out to other people because you just don’t want to be on [Zoom] for even longer, but if you’re gonna be on Zoom, play games,” says junior Maddie Caro. “My friends and I play [Among Us] every Saturday.”
Although Among Us was originally released in 2018 by American studio InnerSloth, the game’s downloads have only recently increased. This jump can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and socially distancing.
“[Among Us] mimics actual social interaction online,” says junior Xavier Chick.
Among Us is a multiplayer game that consists of imposters and crewmates. Crewmates try to complete a series of tasks while trying not to get killed by the imposters. If a crewmate comes across a dead body, they can report it, and a group meeting is called. Members discuss information amongst themselves in the chatroom, and then they vote people out based on given information. Imposters have to be careful not to act mysteriously hoping not to risk being suspected by other crew members.
Although there is no option on the app to explicitly create alliances, students believe it’s more compelling and beneficial to play with friends. In fact, Chick believes it gives players an advantage in the game.
“That’s how you win,” explains Chick. “For a lot of games, there’s one set strategy to win. For this, it’s up to you.”
Having a close group of players allows for more customization of the game itself. In a private game, friends can utilize the tools provided, while creating new rules amongst themselves. Due to COVID-19, gamers have had to chat with their friends using online gaming platforms such as Discord rather than in person.
“We are on this app called Discord,” explains sophomore Nasir Sims, “it’s just like Skype.”
Students have engaged in Among Us hide-and-seek, and even an in-person live version of the game, which entails assigning real tasks, colors, and names to each player and sending them to different places in an area. The imposter will sneak up to characters secretly to kill them.
Not only is the mode of gameplay customizable, but unlike other video games, Among Us allows you to vouch for each other in the chatroom. Also, the Among Us app provides players with creativity with their names and colors.
“Some people are really clever,” explains Caro. “They use color as their name, and then they choose a different color player. When people discuss who the imposter is, they get confused who’s being talked about, the character named Pink or the pink character.”
Ocasio-Cortez also chose pink as her color during her live stream. However, her approach was anything but deceptive. In her stream, she encouraged viewers to understand their voting rights, get out, and cast their ballot.
“[If I were to play with someone, it would be] AOC for sure. She played it, and now I wanna play with her,” says Chick.