Among Us: The Lying Game

The new game that has been popularized by streamers is currently the most recommended app in Apple’s game store is Among Us. Popular among minors and young adults, it leaves the message that if you’re the best liar, you can get away with murder.

Among Us was released in 2018 by a small team of developers, having been categorized as a 2-D indie game. Its basic mechanics is that there is a group of ten players who try to complete tasks; while one, two, or three of the players are killers, trying to murder their friends to win. Of course, the only way for the imposters to win is to lie, lie to their friends so much to the point where at the end of the game, trusting your friends becomes difficult.

Its popularity was believed to have started from the Twitch streamer Sodapoppin, but in actuality, the peak of viewership began with AdmiralBulldog, after the game was recommended to him by his chat, and later confirmed by the well-known streamer, xQc, where he mentioned in one of his past live streams that AdmiralBulldog is in fact the trendsetter of Among Us.

The first recommendation given to Twitch Streamer Admiralbulldog. (LiveLaden)

This slow but steady growth had led to streamers like Wilbur Soot, or YouTubers, such as Disguised Toast to play the game with friends, spreading interesting and entertaining gameplays for people to watch. And during Covid-19, as most minors and young adults are staying in their homes, this game appeared perfect in the eyes of society to reconnect with their friends.

This game had become a fun pastime or a frustrating occurrence with people over the internet. Creating an increased level of anxiety when playing the game, players build this sense to not trust anyone. And the internet seems to disregard this fact as another feature to the video game, where websites publish tips about how to lie better to your friends, instead of warning players of the consequences.

Twitch Streamer Sykunno playing Among Us with friends. (Masina Garonzik)

With the growth of the game’s popularity, the same YouTubers and Twitch Streamers that initially shared the game with their fanbase still emphasize in their videos their excitement of being the imposter. May it be their amazing kills or their different ways of lying out of situations, they consistently publish material that glorifies this role, highlighting to their audience how wonderful it is to lie to their friends.

These feelings from the influencers seep into the behaviors of their audience members who watch their content. And being on the other end of the screen, I can say that I had felt the same sense of excitement every time I got the imposter when playing the game, but these feelings lingered only after I started watching different internet personalities play Among Us.

Using the advice that my favorite internet personas had given to their viewers, they gave me the skills to win more often, but also, to become a better liar.

Understandably, it is a video game, and its contents are fictional, as the situation that the player is faced with would probably never happen to them in real life. As similar games that are even more violent have shown that a player’s behavior does change, but it does not have a lasting effect that could harm them.

The concerns around Among Us are correlated to the message it sends to those that watch and play the game. As the American Psychological Association has recorded that over 90% of children from ages 12-17 play video games. Those children might have a difficult time understanding the difference between the fictitious world and reality, as players commonly talk with each other, exchanging information, and accusing one another of being a liar. It creates an environment of making others unable to trust their teammates or friends.

It doesn’t mean people should stop playing the game, as Ms. Mary Morra, a psychiatric social worker for Taft Charter High School had stated, “Lying and deception is a very normal part of development, children gradually learn to lie, and it is actually a good thing in the sense that it’s an indication that they understand what another person is thinking or feeling, or that the other person has different information than they have.”

Ms. Morra also includes that the young children who play the game will become savvy, and gain those social skills, in which they hopefully don’t lose empathy. As she states that being savvy is one of the top three core skills needed in life.

But she also mentions that there is a fine line between being savvy versus being manipulative. However, this game, whose structure is based on manipulating other players to believe their truth, can influence young minds to believe that manipulation is necessary to form relationships, which is a very scary thought to consider.

Of course, Among Us is free to the public, with no restrictions and warning labels attached, anyone can play, as minors and young adults will continue to entertain themselves with the game. Even with the concerns of teachers, parents, or adults who worry over the development of the next generation, the players, like myself, will hear out those complaints, but ultimately, will seek to fulfill their needs of entertainment.

But it is important to be warned of the consequences, as there isn’t much research on psychological video games on the mind, this game could change the behavior of growing children if they are not taught differently about the effects of lying in the real world.

Over time, the game may even die out, as the popularity of products changes, and audiences may want a new game to entice them, but to understand the possible effects of these games that young children are being exposed to is equally important, instead of blindly following what “looks cool”, it is important to recognize how games like Among Us may affect its players in the long run.