Just when you thought you had Fortnite all figured out, there's another new game in town. What the heck is Among Us?
Among Us is a real-time, science-fiction multiplayer game. Think of it as an outer space whodunit. It starts out when between four and 10 players are dropped onto an alien spaceship where they prepare for take off (stay with us here). Players are either "crewmates" or "imposters." Crewmates attempt to complete tasks on the ship while imposters try to catch and kill them. When a dead body is found, a meeting is called and crewmates vote on who they think the imposter is and then that person is eliminated from the game. But those eliminated are not excluded from the game; they get to stay and help their teammates as “ghosts.”
Crewmates win by completing all their tasks before being killed or by finding and eliminating all the impostors. Impostors win by having a sabotage countdown run out or by killing enough crewmates so that the number of imposters is equal to the number of crewmates.
Why Do Kids Love This Game? It's social! It can be played online (with strangers or a private group of friends) or with people on the same Wi-Fi network.
Why Is It Suddenly So Popular? Although released in 2018, the game has enjoyed a surge in popularity since COVID-19 hit and people had to stay home. Not only did this grow the potential audience for gameplay, but kids took to the fun, cartoonish, and collaborative nature of the game. It's easy to learn and play, and appeals to even young children.
How Much Does It Cost? It's $4.99 on Steam, but free (with ads) for mobile players (both iOS and Android).
How Old Do Have To Be To Play? The ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) recommends players be 10 or older. The Apple App Store makes it available to 9+. The PEGI (Pan European Game Information) originally gave it a rating of 16+, but has since revised that to 7+.
How Old SHOULD Kids Be To Play? That depends upon you and your family's values. Keep in mind there is violence in the game (albeit, cartoonish) that many families find inappropriate for their children, especially young ones. The game also involves lying and detecting liars, so be sure your children are old enough to understand the difference between lying in a game and lying in real life, not to mention the consequences for each.
Additionally, the game is frequently played with a voice chatting app like Discord. When played with friends, players tend to be more polite and collaborative. The app does allow users to “censor” the chat, implementing asterisks to block out profanity (you should insist this feature be used). You can also require that your kids use a private invite code to play only with friends they know, versus connecting virtually with strangers.
The app also collects personal data (this can be disabled with a $2 fee).
Our Advice? Play it with your children to determine if it is appropriate for them. Games only last between 10-15 minutes and they will surely be glad to show you how to play.
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