What is Among Us and is it appropriate for my children?
Here are 5 FACTS every parent needs to know about Among Us:
#1 Viral Pandemic Popularity
Among Us is a game by Innersloth, a startup with 3 games to their credit. Relatively unknown since it debuted on the app store in 2018, Among Us gained viral popularity when Twitch streamer Chance Morris (known as Sodapoppin) streamed his gameplay to almost 3 million followers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Soon, other internet personalities jumped on board streaming their own gameplay.
By September 2020 the app had become the #1 Free Game in the App Store.
Video Games have filled the pandemic induced void of hanging out with friends. Moreover, the cancellation of sports and other extra-curricular activities have opened the door even wider for video games to fill the void of connection and entertainment.
#2 Teamwork & Betrayal
The creators of Among Us describe the game as a “Multiplayer game of teamwork and betrayal.” Some call it an old fashioned “Who Done it?” or “Murder Mystery” type of game.
The premise of the game is that you are an alien crewmate among 4-10 other crewmates (players) attempting to get your spaceship ready for launch. All crewmates go about completing simple tasks simulating the preparation for launch. The catch is that there is an imposter on board! The imposter is one of the players whose goal it is to kill everyone else before being discovered. The job of the crewmates is to discover and vote the imposter off of the ship.
When getting started in a game, players can choose to HOST a game (where their phone/Wi-Fi becomes the local server for those in proximity) or play ONLINE with random others. Players can also invite their friends directly to their game by sending them a code.
One round in the game can run as quickly as 5 to 7 minutes, but kids can easily spend hours playing and engaging with their friends.
The greatest concern with Among Us is the in-game chat. It cannot be turned off entirely as inter-player communication is imperative in voting off the imposter! As you know, anytime there is the ability to connect with strangers, there will also be predators and bullies. Among Us is no different.
**We heard from one parent of a 13 yo girl who was chatting with an “18 yo guy” from another country. He convinced her to get Discord where they can continue their conversation. Concerning for sure, this is why every app must be approved by a parent before download on your child’s devices.
The game does allow for the ability to “Censor Chat” which can be helpful to bl*** out profanity. This defaults to ON which is an awesome feature. Regardless of censors, however, users can still use clever workarounds to make point known.
Additionally, it’s easy for players to ask for other’s numbers or snapchat names in order to connect outside the game.
#4 Ads/In-App purchases
The Among Us app is free and (predictably) uses Google Ads as a source of revenue. You can opt for the ad-free experience for $2; generally an option we’d recommend when the price is as reasonable as this. One benefit is that if you pay for the ad-free game, all other players on a game you host enjoy the ad-free experience as well. All that said, the ads we saw were nothing inappropriate or obnoxious.
Among Us offers some in-app purchases which are completely for show. Pets, skins, and hats can be purchased for $0.99-$2.99. They add no enhancement to your game-play, they just make you look cool (if you believe you’re cool for having it, otherwise it just looks like you wasted a few bucks.)
#5 Parental Controls & Ratings
App store: 9+
Google play: Everyone 10+
Brave Parenting: 9 – 12+
The Among Us game is fairly benign despite the imposter’s objective to “KILL!” and “SABOTAGE!”. The graphics are jovial and the quick game-play doesn’t allow for intense obsessive play. The ability to play with local friends, however, does add an element of fun and potential concern. Friends and peers can be in a game together where it becomes a personal attack (bullying) on one player instead of the light hearted find-the-imposter-alien game.
Because of this, we recommend that children between age 9-11 should play alongside an adult or older, trusted sibling (whether they watch or join the game themselves) in order to learn how to navigate tricky conversations and communication.
As with any game your child may play, appropriate boundaries should be applied based on age and maturity. And as always, have conversations about good character and integrity in all their online (and in-person) interactions.