Ever since quarantine started, people have been resorting to many different ways of killing time while they aren’t attending online school or working from home. However, video games have started to see a boost in popularity on a much larger scale than ever before. No other game demonstrates this trend as well as “Among Us”.
“Among Us” is a game in which you play as a crewmate on-board a spaceship. Your mission is to complete tasks around the spaceship with the rest of your crew. The catch? There are also impostors on-board, whose goal is to kill and inconvenience the ship’s crew while posing as normal crew members. The crewmates have to work together to figure out who they are and vote them out of the ship.
It’s easy to see the appeal of this game, even without playing it. For years, many people have been fascinated by murder mystery—it’s a big part of modern pop culture, and many stories, films, and games besides this one have been influenced by it. However, this doesn’t explain its sudden spike in popularity back in late August of this year, especially when you consider the fact that it was released in 2018. So, what happened?
The short answer: popular video game live streaming service Twitch is widely credited for this phenomenon. The long answer: the rise in popularity was actually a bit more gradual than you might think.
Smaller streamers on the platform, such as SR_Kaif, started playing it as far back as January. Other, bigger streamers, such as sodapoppin and xQC followed suit around July, helping it land on the top 50 most-viewed games on the website by the end of the same month. Despite this, it did not gain the insane amount of new players until August. This mostly has to do with the fact that that month, it finally started seeing popularity outside of Twitch.
Soon, YouTube videos of the game started popping up, and so did memes on other social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. This, combined with the fact that it’s available on iOS and Android devices for free and on PC for only $5, really contributed to the game’s influx of active players. In addition, due to the game’s simplicity and a lack of social activities to partake in due to the pandemic, many people who didn’t even play video games were now interested in it.
Although the game’s servers were initially overwhelmed by its newfound popularity, those issues would soon be fixed, allowing it to maintain its popularity throughout September and October.
Perhaps the most notable demonstration of how popular the game had become was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hosting a Twitch stream in which she played the game along with Rep. Ilhan Omar and several big-name Twitch streamers in October. She did this in an attempt to encourage the American people to vote in the, at the time upcoming, 2020 elections. The stream was wildly successful, pulling in around 439,000 concurrent viewers, just around 200,000 viewers short of the current record of most concurrent viewers on a stream held by streamer Ninja.
Although the game has somewhat died down in popularity ever since late October, it shouldn’t undermine the massive success the game enjoyed this year. It also continues to be a great pass time when you want to do something with your friends while COVID-19 continues to make it impractical to hang out with them. For these reasons, it’s not unreasonable to believe that its legacy will live on, long after the pandemic is over.