Among Us

Among Us

Among Us was one of the most popular games of 2020, and although this popularity has waned a little it still has a high number of players. 

But what does Among Us involve, and is it safe for children? Here's everything you need to know.  

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What is Among Us?

Among Us is a free multiplayer game for smartphones, tablets and Windows PCs (via Steam). It has a PEGI 7 rating.

It launched in June 2018 and stayed largely under the radar, but soared in popularity during lockdown due to its appearance on several high-profile Twitch channels.

Players take the role of either a Crewmate or Imposter in one of three sci-fi settings: a spaceship, sky base or planetary outpost.

Up to 10 players can join a game. They are assigned to one of the roles at random, without anyone else knowing.

The objective for the Crewmates is to complete specific tasks and unmask the Imposters, of which there can be up to three per game. Imposters need to sabotage or kill the Crewmates, without being spotted. 

The tasks are easy to complete and mostly just involve pressing a few buttons – it’s a world away from the complexity of the average role playing game

When someone suspects another player of being an Imposter, or discovers a dead body, they can call a meeting where all of the players (except for any who have been killed) can discuss who they think did the deed.

After a few seconds of debate, players vote – and if one player gets more votes than the others, they are ejected into space or hurled into a pool of lava.

The game then continues until one side wins – but most bouts last no more than five minutes in total.

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Why is it so popular?

Among Us is simple to play, engaging and fast-paced. You can play with your friends –which gives it an added social element – and aside from in-game purchases it’s free to download. 

What do parents need to be aware of?

Local and online games

Players can join either local or online games. A local game is when players are all in the same location and can use the same Wifi, so it’s likely that all players will know each other. Online games can be public or private and connect players from across different locations. When you join a public online game, you have no control over who you play with or who you are talking to. 

It may be safer for children to play local games with other users on the same network, or to set up a private online game and share the access code securely with friends. Either way, make sure your child is aware of the importance of protecting their personal information, such as their name, address or other identifiable details

Unmoderated chat

The voting is all done via unmoderated chat, which means that children could be exposed to inappropriate language. A ‘Censor chat’ feature is available, but it’s not foolproof: gamers can easily get around it by using slang or substituting numbers for letters.

What’s more, the censor feature can be turned off with a single press – there’s no way for parents to prevent their child from changing it. A ‘kick’ feature allows other players to eject someone from a game if they are using bad language or behaving inappropriately, but this is rarely used.

Players can, and do, exchange personal information in chats, particularly in the lobby that they wait in before a game starts. It’s not uncommon to see players asking others how old they are or where they are from, or to share details of their social accounts.

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In-app purchases

As with many free-to-play games, in-app purchases are available to buy within the game. These range in price from £0.89 to £2.79 and can be used to buy new ‘skins’ (an aesthetic for your character) or pets who follow the player around. Try to be mindful of the social pressures children may feel to buy these cosmetic extras, and make sure that you don't have any card details saved on your device. 

There are also occasional ads, which can be removed with another in-app purchase.

Violence

Among Us features violent graphics when players are killed. This is very cartoony in style, but it may not be suitable for all children. 

Spot something that doesn't look quite right? You can email librarian@parentzone.org.uk to submit comments and feedback.