Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock recently, you’ve heard of the new game that tweens and teens are playing, Among Us!. But unlike most games, this is one that may have some educational merit.
What Is Among Us?
Among Us! was released back in 2018, but gained popularity only in September 2020, thanks to the attention of popular streamers. And now, students across the country are busy playing it.
It is a multiplayer game where four to 10 players are dropped onto an alien spaceship. Each player is given a private role as a “crewmate” or an “impostor.” Crew members are trying to get the ship ready to take off and reach home by successfully completing certain tasks. The impostor works to sabotage the ship, sneak through vents, deceive, and frame others to remain anonymous and kill off the crew. While everyone is fixing up the ship and completing the given tasks, no one is allowed to talk/chat in the game to maintain anonymity. Once a body is reported, however, the surviving crew may openly debate via text chat who they think the impostor is. If the impostor is not voted off, everyone goes back to maintaining the ship until another body is found. If the impostor is voted off, the crew wins!
The game can be played on a Windows computer (through Steam for $5) or via the Android or iOS app (free). Once a game is begun by the host, players can use any device to connect to it. It takes between one and five minutes usually to play one round of the game.
Among Us! does have some nice accessibility features. You can adjust the time you have to discuss and vote on who is an impostor, as well as reduce the player, crewmate, and impostor speed. You can also adjust how hard it is to kill a player and how far people can see in the game to adjust how hard it is to play and give new players an advantage.
Skills Developed While Playing the Game
Besides the use of deduction skills, the game requires a lot of social interaction for success. Players are able to verbally discuss their thoughts about who the imposter is, as well as defend themselves if they are called out as the imposter. They must collaborate and work as a team to unmask the villain. And they will need to constantly review and revise their strategy in order to win.
And the Downside
The free version of the app does collect data (see the screenshot below). If the ads annoy you, I recommend paying the $1.99 to permanently remove them.
Because this is a social game, players can connect with others from anywhere. So “stranger danger” is a possibility. However, if the teacher is the host of the game, she can choose to invite only her students to play using a private invite code. The game has a chat feature, which could allow for the use of inappropriate language. It does offer a “Censor Chat” feature which can be turned on that “stars out” swear words. But it won’t catch all of them.
It’s rated 9+ by Apple and 10+ in Google Play. If children under 12 are playing an open game (not a private one), I recommend keeping a close eye on them.
How Teachers Are Using Among Us!
While the game itself is not truly “educational,” there are some ways that it can be used in an educational setting. Here are some ideas from teachers who have embraced this phenomena:
- “I’ve been using Among Us as a motivational tool while teaching virtually to get my kids to turn in their assignments. Each assignment completed and turned in by everyone in the class is worth one minute. So it’s in everyone’s best interest to turn them all in. The more assignments turned in, the more minutes they accrue to play the game while in class. In a week, we usually average 15. They especially love to play against me!”
- Another teacher used the game format for representing numbers (shown below). The standard form number goes in the middle and three other “real” representations fill in the other squares. The fourth square is for the “imposter” number.
- There are a variety of ideas about how to use the game for school work in this Google Doc.
- Fresno State University education professor Howie Hua recommends spicing up your “Which One Doesn’t Belong?” activities by turning them into Among Us! memes (below).
- The New York Times has a lesson plan for students based around the game. “In this lesson, students examine how The Times reports on a trend they probably know a great deal about, then make a case for the educational value of playing social video games in school.”
What do you think? Is Among Us! a game that you would allow your students to play at school? Please don’t be a “Sus” and share in the comments below.