Image Credit: Innersloth
InnerSloth have a team of three people according their Twitter, and yet they have managed to create a game that has gained worldwide attention. Among Us is an online multiplayer deduction game based in space that has become the subject of memes and media attention in recent weeks. It begs the question: how has a small cult classic become a massive mainstream cultural phenomenon overnight?
Among Us did not have a significant player-base on its initial 2018 release. Their tweet announcing the development of the game only has 106 likes and InnerSloth has only sporadically updated until the increased popularity of the game this year. They now average around 1,000 likes per post and have 234.9k followers. According to Geoff Keighley, in its first six months, Among Us had an average of 8.2 players and has now peaked with 300k crewmates and imposters. The ability to play a game with our friends when it is hard to meet outside of our homes right now creates important social interaction.
However, I do not envy the developers in this situation; much. The significant increase in players in their game has caused them to have considerable server problems and with such a small team it is taking time for them to make the servers more suitable for a larger number of players. If these problems continue, questions will arise on how they are going to be able to maintain this popularity in an age with a high turnover of new games becoming popular.
According to “A Unified Theory of Meme Death”, an article in The Atlantic, ‘Memes are us’. By this, the writer is suggesting that our current environments and situations impact what happens on the internet. The variation in how quickly a meme or a video game loses popularity is therefore dependent on what is happening in the world around us. In the case of Among Us, this suggests that it isn’t going anywhere in the immediate future. Among Us offers online communication at a time when people are looking for it the most. With the current pandemic, the opportunity to meet people in person is incredibly limited and Among Us offers entertainment and mystery. Unless our current environment suddenly gets better, or another video game that brings people together like Among Us appears in the near future, it is unlikely that the game will face a sudden internet death.
Yet, in order to maintain the popularity that it has now, InnerSloth will need to release updates to the game which, according to the developers, needs a lot of work after they chose to stop adding to it before their increased success at the beginning of 2020. In August, InnerSloth announced Among Us 2. They cited that attempting to make Among Us 1 strong enough to handle the massive influx of users in the game would be harder than building a whole new game with a stronger core infrastructure.
In the blog post where they announced this sequel, they also indicated that the making of it would require at least a year as that is how long it took to make Among Us 1. About a month later, InnerSloth changed their tune. Instead of a sequel, they announced that they would work on improving the original game, while they believe that this would be more work, it is likely that it will allow people to continue playing Among Us 1 while things improve around them. There is, however, the question of whether this choice to focus on the first game is due to the fear that Among Us will not remain popular long enough for Among Us 2 to be worth it.
The popularity and ease of access of Among Us can be demonstrated in the recent game played by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), a US Senator, with famous streamers in order to [EG1] get people to vote in the upcoming US elections. The streaming event had 439,000 people watching at its peak and around 5 million people have watched the stream after the fact. AOC spent the stream having fun and relaxing with the streamers that she invited, such as Pokimane, HasanAbi, Jacksepticeye, and Dr Lupo. The stream was indicative of her open personality and by using the streaming platform Twitch she demonstrates how ‘in with the times’ she is.
This stream was a political move, AOC already has significant popularity among younger people in the United States and she has gained popularity around the world for her willingness to speak out and her relatability. Choosing to play Among Us demonstrates its popularity right now, and whether AOC had an alternative motive to gain more popularity for herself or not, I don’t mind if it gets people to vote in the US presidential election and demonstrates the importance of video games, especially online multiplayer games like Among Us, for young people.