In the cartoonish virtual world of the game Among Us, everyone is sus.
“Sus,” short for “suspect” or “suspicious,” is just one of the many nuances of the interstellar murder mystery game that was the most downloaded game on Apple’s App Store and Google Play since July, gaining more than 100 million new users during that time, The Verge reported.
Among said noobs (that’s gamer-speak for a “rookie”) is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her debut Twitch stream while playing Among Us — along with fellow Congresswoman Ilhan Omar — garnered nearly 700,000 viewers total for a get-out-the-vote campaign. Between AOC’s peak viewer count of 440,000 and an added 200,000 across streams set up by other players, including Twitch celebs Pokimane and HasanAbi, the event was the third-largest combined broadcast in Twitch history, according to Forbes.
First released in 2018 by the indie gaming company InnerSloth, few knew about Among Us prior to the pandemic — until Twitch star Chance Morris, aka Sodapoppin, began streaming the game to his 2.8 million fans in July, The New York Times recently reported. It takes place on an intergalactic space station populated by “crewmates” — four to 10 players who may be a closed network of friends or just random players.
But each group of crewmates includes one or more “impostors,” who lurk and are secretly charged at the outset with murdering as many crewmates as possible without being suspected. Meanwhile, crewmates must also perform a checklist of chores aboard the ship while avoiding getting killed. Players will periodically convene to discuss who they believe to be the impostor, and vote them off the ship. Whether you’re the impostor or not, the object is to survive.
Because strategy, debate and deceit are crucial to the Among Us, players will meet in various ways to share intel, make their case for the suspected impostor or defend themselves from persecution as an imposter. For many young people, that meeting ground became Discord, a free group-chat platform. The Times discovered one Discord server with around 98,000 mostly teenage members.
The free mobile platform is available on iPhones and Android phones, while a desktop version for Windows computers is available to download for $4.99.
“Everyone is aged 13 to 20,” said Benson, the server’s 13-year-old administrator. He told The Times, “It’s a way to pass the time when you don’t have anything else to do. Since we can’t really congregate in a public area like the park, Among Us allows us to be online social distancing.”
Bona fide adult celebs are also getting in on the trend, including rapper Logic and Hafthor Julius Bjornsson Julius Bjornsson, who played The Mountain in “Game of Thrones.” Granted, the mainstream star power has yet to surpass the Animal Crossing craze during the early days of the pandemic, but the AOC team’s stunt was a savvy one to pull off just before the general election.
As political podcaster Amanda Litman pointed out on Twitter: “If you add up viewers across the various streams, more than half a million people are watching @AOC on Twitch — she’s hosting the biggest GOTV rally of 2020.”
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