On a screen, a waiting queue illuminates the player’s face. There are 10 members per lobby, prepared to face off in a fast paced crime-based game, trying to discover the imposter among them.
In an online world where players trust, deceive, second guess and form alliances to survive, Temple University students on and off campus host their own server on Discord, to play “Among Us” together and start competitions and friendships amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The game, which can be played online or on a mobile device, launched in June 2018, but has gained 85 million players in the last six months, the Guardian reported.
The Temple server, which started in late September, now has around 100 players in total, said James Riker, a senior psychology major and one of the server’s original members. Players plan games through a chat channel and then send the code for the game, he added.
Players are crew members stuck together on a spaceship completing tasks like cleaning the O2 filter in the greenhouse, clearing out asteroids or rebooting the Wi-Fi. However, among 10 crew members lies one or two impostors who have the ability to kill other players.
“I’m a big fan of social deception games,” said Aidan Moulton, a freshmen music education major. “‘Among Us’ is much easier for beginners to pick up.”
To win the game, players need to figure out who the imposter is that committed the murder on the space ship. Crew members are able to call an emergency meeting if they suspect an imposter or find a dead body. Deliberation begins and players must decide who will be voted off.
“I lie quite easily in the imposter phase, but then sometimes I’ll say the worst thing and then immediately get voted off for it,” Moulton said.
Moulton attempts to be civil while playing, but the game often calls for some lying, and that’s where tension arises, he said.
Michael Brown, a senior psychology major and one of the first Discord members, is impressed by how many people are on the server, he said.
The night it was created, the server had games with three different groups of Temple student players, he added.
Temple students typically run the audio feature on Discord to talk in the background while playing the game, rather than typing in the chat box, Riker added.
“It can be exhilarating, but at the same time, it can be frustrating,” Brown said. “One person could be trying to prove their point while another person is yelling at the top of their lungs.”
It’s easier for Brown to play with the chat box because he can hide emotions more easily if he is trying to conceal his imposter identity, he said.
“When you’re in a voice chat and you just killed two people, keeping a straight face and saying, ‘It wasn’t me,’ is kind of harder,” Brown added.
Voice chatting not only leads to a more enriching and collaborative experience, but fosters other dialogues around school, politics and the COVID-19 pandemic, Riker said.
“The name on the server is “Among Us Comrades,” so it’s also a space for political discussions,” Riker said. “We have members live tweet the debates, generate memes or debate what state has the best flag.”
Riker sees “Among Us” as an outlet to find community and commonality in the student body, he said. Between games, the players discuss how the pandemic has impacted them and their studies, he added.
“It’s nice to be able to make friends and just talk to people, especially in this election,” Riker said. “We have a group of like-minded individuals to talk about politics together.”
Moulton has been able to meet a lot of people outside of his major, like students studying biology or business, through the “Among Us” server.
“I’m not the most outgoing person out in the real world, but now there’s a good chance for me to start meeting new people at Temple,” he added.