Video games, mainly ‘Among Us,’ distract, entertain students during pandemic

During the pandemic, video games such as “Among Us” and “Minecraft” have brought much-needed distractions for both students and adults. Though “Minecraft” has had more than 11 years to grow its community, “Among Us” has only recently picked up traction after being a less relevant game for the past two years. According to the New York Times, millions of teenagers have looked to “Among Us” to satisfy their boredom. Also, according to Steam – a popular video game distribution service – “Among Us” today has had more than 255,000 players online worldwide at one time.

“Among Us” is a game in which up to 10 players are placed in two teams, either Crewmates or Impostor(s). The goal of the Crewmates is to finish tasks and each round try to deduce who the Impostor(s) may be. For the Impostor(s), the main goal is to eliminate every Crewmate without getting caught or voted off the spaceship (or any other map).

A common way to communicate with friends is through a website (and application) called “Discord,” in which people can make servers where they can either talk via voice calling or text. Some people use this while playing “Among Us,” but also while playing “Minecraft,” a sandbox survival game where the players can play in different game-modes to either build, survive, or explore the endless terrain. Both these games are very different from each other, but they both have risen exponentially in people playing them, especially “Among Us.”

Among the hundreds of thousands of “Among Us” players is freshman Lily Hirsch, who has used video games to better connect with friends during their time apart. Hirsch said that these games have allowed her and her friends to play together while keeping her mentally and physically sane and healthy.

“When you go into the emergency meetings, and you have to lie, but no one’s feelings are hurt…especially when I’m not on a Discord with my friends [and] I just play [on] a public server; I’m way better,” Hirsch said. “It’s a brain game, you have to actually think because if you do something in front of people, or you say something, it makes it really obvious, so you have to actually think.”

While “Among Us” has allowed Hirsch and her friends to socialize virtually, Hirsch has also played “Minecraft,” which grew again in popularity over quarantine as well. “Minecraft’s” resurgence of players, primarily teenagers, was also due to the lack of communication between students.

“Especially [at the] beginning of quarantine…I played a lot of ‘Minecraft’ because I could FaceTime somebody and do stuff at the same time and it made it easier to play games,” Hirsch said. “And now, I join a Discord server with all my friends and we all play together. It’s just a way for us to talk because none of us are allowed to hang out in a big group of nine kids.”

The popularity of “Among Us,” and even “Minecraft,” stretches even farther than Hirsch. Junior Pedro Alcantara has found “Among Us” to be a very social game, one where he can have fun and also learn something new about his friends.

“I think that it is a fun way to play a game with a large group of people,” Alcantara said. “…the game became popular because you get to play against your own friends and you get to learn how your friends lie and how good they are at it.”

Alcantara said that the game will stay a friend-favorite if one has a large group of friends that feel they want to play the game together. Since “Among Us” does require at least four people in order for it to be played, having friends eager to play it would become a priority in its survival.

It doesn’t always take a very seasoned player for someone to find “Among Us” enjoyable. One player like junior Jackson Helmick hasn’t played the game very much, but can understand the hype.

“I have played ‘Among Us’ on a few occasions,” Helmick said. “I like the strategic element that it has, unlike most other popular games. The graphics are simple and clean, and the discussions are a clever way to help the innocent players find out who the Impostor is.”

Although Helmick has a slightly smaller amount of knowledge than a player that may have been playing for months before him, he can still thoroughly analyze the ways that the game has brought attention to itself. The different aspects of the game can bring players together that like all different kinds of games.

“I think the game became popular for two main reasons: Popular streamers began playing it together on Twitch, a game-streaming platform, giving it exposure [and] bringing in more players,” Helmick said. “Also, it has a uniqueness that not many other games have, with the strategizing of your own vote and persuading others.”

Similar to Helmick, sophomore Jacob Alvo has looked to gaming as a way to both pass the time and stay in touch with his friends. Alvo sees “Among Us” as one of the best methods of doing so.

“I think the game became popular because it has a lot of elements that you can play with friends easily, and it’s just really something you can get into,” Alvo said. “It’s like the popular game ‘Mafia,’ so it’s a game people play regularly but too often. This is a new spin on it in a way.”

Alvo said that it is the gameplay that makes the game so enticing to players around the world, even those that aren’t traditional gamers, and doesn’t think that the end of the pandemic will mean the end of the game’s popularity.

“[‘Among Us’] will [stay popular] as long as the developers update the game so gameplay doesn’t get stale,” Alvo said. “If the updates are what the people want, then I believe it might get more popular… As long as people stay connected and together, I doubt it’ll go anywhere.”