No one could’ve predicted how big Among Us would get. We’re to the point where people are drawing fanart of avatars that have essentially no character development! Perhaps it’s the blank slate nature that has allowed people to assign different characteristics, but the game being one of the most popular of the year, completely out of nowhere, certainly helps. We discuss some of the reasons we think Among Us exploded in popularity on this episode of Waypoint Radio.
Gita: There's now a broad culture that is just Among Us memes, I've seen Among Us fan art. I've seen Among Us fan comics of like, “Oh, here's a red guy who's an imposter that's trying to save this blue guy that he loves from other imposters.”
Rob: I hate most of them for that reason by the way. It's always “Okay, so the premise for this is” and then like three paragraphs of set up for like a two panel comic. I'm like, fuck off.
Gita: I know! I mean, my favorite one recently was, um, just an impostor discovered screen, but the imposter’s name was Hope Hicks.
Rob: That's a good, yes. I saw that one, that one fucking ruled.
Gita: I do feel like this is an instance like Pokemon GO where by understanding this game, I learned a new language of how people talk to each other. I'm never going to play Among Us again, but for me it was like “that really fucking whips!” I love it.
Rob: Traitor games have been big in the tabletop space for awhile, but I think they also often run into a problem where they require learning a whole lot of mechanics as well, Shadows Over Camelot is an example, but even that one is a little bit meaty. Battlestar Galactica was popular for a time and that one has, if I recall, some really intricate rules, so it takes a lot to get to the [part where you go] “well, we're all trying to do these, these shared cooperative tasks, but somebody here’s sabotaging us.” It takes a while to sort of get to the point where everyone has the game knowledge to figure out and read the state of play.
Among Us short circuits a lot of that, cause it is so simple. And so I think it really does boil the experience down to its essence, which is just “what is the minimum viable game we can create to set up people accusing each other around the table.” That's the moment we want to get to, and everything just funnels toward that.
I think it's going to be a tough formula to repeat or copy in some ways, because it is such a distillation. There's some people who just really love to lie, like our friend Chris Kindred who just lives to deceive, disseminate, and obfuscate his misdeeds. And some people are wired that way. Not making any judgements, if you are a secret monster!
Gita: Yeah, I can't even jokingly tell David that I don't like him when he like plays a prank on me or something. I say, “I hate you. No, just kidding. I don't hate you. I love you very much!”
This transcript was edited for length and clarity. Discussed: News 1:21, Super Mario Bros. 35 12:22, Among Us 22:35, Star Wars: Squadrons 45:11, Tell Me Why 1:01:23
You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher. If you're using something else, this RSS link should let you add the podcast to whatever platform you'd like. If you'd like to directly download the podcast, click here. Please take a moment and review the podcast, especially on Apple Podcasts. It really helps.
Interaction with you is a big part of this podcast, so make sure to send any questions you have for us to firstname.lastname@example.org with the header "Questions." (Without the quotes!) We can't guarantee we'll answer all of your questions, but rest assured, we'll be taking a look at them.