What parents need to know about the video game Among Us

If you have a tween or teen who’s bored at home, you’ve likely heard them talk about playing the videogame Among Us with their friends online. It’s been available to play since 2018, but this year saw Among Us skyrocket to popularity as the COVID-19 pandemic forced people in lockdown to connect with friends online rather than in person.

Since the late summer, Among Us has become the subject of many memes and gaming streams online attracting over 60 million daily users and garnering over 100 million downloads of the mobile app. In mid-October, U.S. Congress members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar even held a Twitch stream as a way to encourage young people to register to vote in the 2020 election, bringing even more attention to the online party game.

This probably has parents wondering: Is among us platforms appropriate for kids to play? Is there anything you need to worry about your kids seeing or learning? Whether your kid is asking for permission to play, or they’ve been playing it for a while now, this guide has the answers to all the questions parents may have about this popular online murder-mystery game.

What is Among Us?
Among Us is an online multiplayer game from the developers at InnerSloth that has players working together to fix their crumbling spaceship while figuring out who the imposters are. It’s what’s known as a social deduction game, which means the game-play focuses on a conflict between two teams: the informed minority and the uninformed majority. While this may sound complicated, it’s a pretty simple concept.

At the start of each game, you’re randomly assigned the role of bad guy (a.k.a Imposter) or good guy (a.k.a. Crewmate). The Imposters know what role each player was assigned (i.e., they know who the other bad guys are), while the Crewmates are none the wiser. In order for Imposters to win, they must kill all the Crewmates without getting caught. If the Crewmates want to win, they must either discover who the Imposters are and vote them off the ship, or finish repairing the ship by doing little tasks (which present as simple mini-games) before the Imposters are able to kill everyone.

The only catch is that players are only allowed to talk to each other during emergency meetings, which only happens after a body of a slain Crewmate is found and reported or someone presses the emergency meeting button (each player can only press the button once per game, depending on your settings). During a meeting, players discuss what they’ve seen and vote to either kick out a suspicious player or continue on without an elimination. However, Imposters will try their best to convince the other players that they’re one of the good guys, so players must use logic to see beyond the deception and make the right choices. Sounds fun, right?

There are three different maps to explore and each game only lasts around 10-15 minutes, so even if you die or get voted out, its not long before you can play again.

Is Among Us violent?
You might hear the word “murder” and “kill” and decide this game isn’t appropriate for your kids. But in fact, the vast majority of this game is relatively tame. There’s no visible blood in the game, and when a player finds the “dead body” of another player, the cartoony art style makes it look more like a colourful honey-baked ham than a corpse.

One thing to note is the somewhat shocking kill animations, which occur when you get murdered by one of the Imposters. These show fairly violent scenes, including getting stabbed with a knife or a sharp alien tongue, getting your character’s neck broken and getting shot with a gun. While these are pretty grisly, each scene only lasts on screen for about two seconds, and they don’t get shown very often. The kill animations are actually only put on screen for the Crewmate being killed, so although you’re likely to be a Crewmate most of the time, you’ll witness the animation no more than once per game (if at all). If you’re an Imposter, you won’t see the kill animations at all. Instead, when you make a kill—which is easier said than done depending on your skill level—the victim’s character simply becomes that “honey-baked ham” and falls to the floor.