The online multiplayer game Among Us recently surpassed 85 million total mobile downloads, according to data analysis site Sensor Tower, and students said it has become a staple of quarantine socialization.
Students said they have embraced the group-friendly video game for activities, icebreakers and general social experiences. Student organizations have also started turning to Among Us as a virtual alternative to in-person socials.
Madhav Singh, a neuroscience junior and undergraduate assistant for the Sanger Learning Center, said he helps set up Among Us socials for the center. The game is a good medium for meeting new people, Singh said.
“It was nice to get to know the other tutors, and it was fun,” Singh said. “Eventually, I think we’ll have a good Among Us community.”
Amay Bhatnagar, an electrical and computer engineering freshman, said he has played Among Us since the beginning of August. He said he has met other engineering students through the game.
“Meeting people became super tough during quarantine … having any sort of regular social interaction can bring anxiety,” Bhatnagar said. “With things like Among Us, it makes it a lot easier.”
Journalism freshman Samantha Castro said she downloaded the game in April and has watched it gain traction in the past few months.
“There’s not as much anxiety as joining a Zoom call or meeting a new organization,” Castro said. “It’s just a game.”
Singh said while the game mechanics are good, it’s not the same as in-person interaction.
“I don’t think it’s the perfect replacement for in-person socialization, but it’s better than nothing,” Singh said. “ … On a scale of 1-10, it would be a seven or an eight. It’s not the best, but you’re still socializing.”
Sometimes, playing with strangers online can be an unpleasant experience, Castro said.
“One of the things I dislike about it is that you can use slurs, and in a lot of randomized servers this is a big problem,” Castro said. “People can be racist or homophobic … I know it’s the internet, but it would be cool if the creators could censor some words.”
Bhatnagar said the interaction is better with friends, and the game helps create conversation while socializing virtually.
“Over Zoom, there’s not as much organic conversation,” Bhatnagar said. “Doing things like Among Us provides some common ground for people to have conversations off of — otherwise you’re stuck with the same old awkward icebreakers.”