‘Among Us’ has gotten popular fast and all the kids are playing it, but is it safe for them? What should we know? Here’s a full parent’s guide to help
What Is Among Us?
Among Us is described by Android Central as a “social deduction game, similar to board games like Mafia and Werewolf.” The 4-10 player game integrates deductive reasoning, collaboration, and a little bit of sabotage in order to win. Participants are either Crewmates or Imposters; in each game, one, two, or three players are randomly selected to be an Imposter.
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The team of crewmates must race to identify and kill the imposters. The secret squad of bad guys, meanwhile, complete a fake list of jobs in order to blend in and try to systematically defeat the good guys. The game can take place in one of three locations, or “maps,” including headquarters, a spaceship, or an imaginary planet.
As the Among Us Wikipedia explains, the outcome is simple: “The Crewmates win by completing all tasks before being killed or by finding and eliminating all the Impostors. For the Impostors to win, they must either have a sabotage countdown run out or kill enough Crewmates such that the number of Impostors is equal to the number of Crewmates.” And those eliminated from the mystery early on are not excluded; they help their teammates as “ghosts.”
Why is it Suddenly Popular?
Among Us was released in 2018 to little fanfare. However, the gaming app saw a surge in popularity when COVID-19 restrictions required that an unprecedented number of people hunker down at home. Then, the potential audience for gameplay exploded, and the cartoonish, collaborative nature of Among Us was ideal to improve the stuck-inside doldrums.
Among Us has retained its popularity because it is extremely easy to learn; unlike other popular games, success – and enjoyment! – can come with little to no experience. The concept has been described by popular YouTube gamer Pegasus as “ingenious” for its simplicity, and praised for its “extremely social” nature.
What is the Age Rating for Among Us?
All games receive a PEGI rating, which are intended to provide guidance as to whether or not a product is suitable for a family of consumers. Taming Gaming runs a “family video game database” through which apps like Among Us are assessed for appropriateness for young gamers. The site explains that Among Us originally had a PEGI 16 rating for “Strong Violence,” which would understandably put any mom on edge.
However, the Video Standards Council recently reviewed that rating given the game’s popularity. They acknowledged that, due to the sheer volume of 10,000+ games created annually, the council had designated that rating purely based on the descriptions of the game from the developer’s application – not a thorough assessment of content. After an exhaustive review of the app, the VSC re-issued a PEGI 7 rating instead.
Common Sense Media allows parents to weigh in with their thoughts about a game, appreciating that moms and dads may have a different perspective than a tech company doing the rating. Users therein projected that anywhere from 8 years old to 15+ is the sweet spot for appropriateness, which is frankly a huge range! Reviewer Mellu2 said 9+ was the target audience, explaining, “It is a bit violent but no guns and no blood. The fun cartoons are cute and I think this is suitable for 9.”
Other parents disagreed, however, decrying the use of in-game chat (which could allow for foul language or crude usernames). The harshest critic suggested Among Us should be for age 15+; Blue Sky 2 said, “one of the things that happened was you chop up a guy and then you see his ghost rise up…maybe this kind of stuff appeals to some people! But its messed up if you ask me.”
What’s The Verdict? Is ‘Among Us’ Okay For My Kid to Play?
Like most fads on the internet, families need to make their own calls based on personal values and limitations. The violence – cartoonish as it is – may dissuade some moms and dads from allowing it in their homes at all. Like many games and apps, Among Us collects data for use with its push advertising. However, this can be disabled with a $2 fee. And with ground rules about digital trust, it can be a positive gaming intro for younger players.
How do you ensure Among Us is safe and fun for your child? The app allows users to “censor” the chat, implementing asterisks to block out profanity; you can insist this feature is engaged. Parents can also require that their kids use a private invite code to play only with friends they know, versus connecting virtually with strangers.
It is reportedly extremely fun to play as a family or among adults; perhaps a sampling among parents and adult friends can give the best insight as to whether you’d like your child to participate. And if Among Us clears your hurdle for kid or teen use, you can take comfort that the social elements of the game have been its most popular – and most unifying – feature in a time where distance is otherwise a challenge.
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Sources: Android Central, Common Sense Media, Wikipedia, Taming Gaming,
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