It’s rare that a new game comes along that appeals to adults, teens and children alike, so this is partly what explains the surging popularity of the online and mobile video game, Among Us. If your children aren’t already playing it, they’ve probably watched YouTubers playing it or heard about it from their friends.
Its popularity is partly thanks to its easy and quick-to-understand gameplay, but mostly down to its wink-murder-style storyline, in which players compete to find who among them is the secret murderer. You play one of 10 crew members aboard a doomed spaceship, where tasks are always waiting to be completed, but one (or maybe more) of the other crew members is an imposter – it's up to you and the other shipmates to figure out who before he or she murders all the rest of the crew. Gameplay includes chat and discussion about the potential murderer every time a new body is discovered. At the Foundation we are always keen on finding ways to connect with what your children are doing online, and this is one of those games where you could conceivably sit down with all the family and have a go at the game together (you will all need your own device – computer/phone or iPad).
So is it safe?
Well, the age rating is 7+, and it features a ‘profanity filter’ that can blank out any swearing being used in chat, as well as personal information, which is useful to know if your children have been asking to play it. You can choose to play in a private, ‘local’ game, where you play with invited friends, and this is recommended for children. Interestingly, it is also more fun playing with real-life friends, as the banter and desperate attempts to prove you are not the killer encourage lots of laughs and drama, and, as one parent reviewer on commonsensemedia.org noted, is good for ‘teaching children the ins and outs of deductive reasoning and socialisation.’
If your children are playing on public settings, encourage them to choose an anonymous nickname rather than using their own name, and check in regularly to make sure everyone is playing nicely. The live conversation may mean that children are exposed to language usually associated with older-rated games. This is one reason that playing the game on private is recommended. Please note that other users may also choose inappropriate or offensive user names.
The game is so popular right now that the makers, InnerSloth, have announced that their plans for Among Us 2 have been cancelled, as they are pouring their resources into making the original even better. The game is not available on consoles, just mobiles and PC. So for now, why not take the opportunity to get to know your children’s online world and have a go at this quirky game as the autumn evenings draw in? It’s the perfect chance to teach them a little about online safety while having fun at the same time.