Limitation: When we say that “art is a reflection of society”, there are various aspects that need to be taken into account and I wrote this article only on reflection approach, in a very generalized manner. Different interpretations can be made and we can also come up with different viewpoints on the relationship between art and society.
By now, I don’t think I have to explain what Among Us is since many of us are already familiar with the game. For me, it is surprising that I don’t only know this game, but I also played it: as someone who never even downloaded Animal Crossing in her entire life and didn’t play a single game for almost 10 years, this is a milestone.
There are many reasons behind how this game became so popular even though it is a 2018 creation of only three people and didn’t follow any marketing strategies (as we know) to differentiate itself in the competitive marketplace, their consumer base is developed organically. This popularity can be coming from many ways, nonetheless, I believe that I can provide an angle.
I deleted the game to increase my productivity, however, it came up to my mind again after learning about the reflection approach in art studies in my sociology in arts and culture course which states that “art mirrors the society”. Since creating a game can be considered as creating an artwork ( if we look at the elements that construct an art piece), I thought I can apply this game to the concept of reflection in two ways: the design of the game and the tools created within that design and the game rules.
Design & Tools
When we observe the world of Among Us closely, it is possible to notice the simplicity of the visuals: characters are pretty basic but cute looking, the game is in two-dimensional format and the most complex structure is the map (at least for me the maps are very confusing and I’m still trying to figure out how some people know the map by heart). When I first opened the game, this feature made me wonder whether if it is for kids or not since these little astronauts with colourful costumes gave me Club Penguin vibes. However, I enjoyed the fact that it has a simple design and I don’t need to spend too much time customizing my avatar which allows me to focus on the game rather than the visual aspects (I noticed this after reading this article).
The pandemic lefts us with plenty of time and thoughts on how we spend this time. For example, I used to wake up at least one hour earlier if I have a lecture at 9 am, dress up, make myself presentable and go to the campus. Now, I wake up one hour earlier again, but instead of spending that time on putting makeup on or wearing layers of clothing to protect myself from the wind, I call my parents and talk about our plans for the day. Of course, this is a personal example and might be a different case for everyone, however, this small change in my “9 am class morning routine” showed me how much importance I give to the communication. If I put the game into perspective based on my personal experience, I see that the layout of Among Us might be simple and the character customization might not be time-consuming, but having a conversation with other players in the voting process is a significant aspect of the game. Therefore, I think, Among Us reflects what we have in our daily life in this pandemic era (of course, everyone has unique experiences): less importance to the appearance and more focus on the content.
The game has really simple rules: you need to do the tasks, find the imposter if you are not the one and know a certain terminology (for example, I was trying to understand why everyone in the game was saying ‘sus’ or ‘Where?’ without any context). Also, the game forces you to learn about the maps (I never did but I remember some people in the chat were answering these ‘where?’ questions properly.) and you began to have this new words in your mind, yet, the game is still very basic.
Quarantine is effecting our memories in many way (I had to credit this idea as I read or watched it in someplace but I don’t remember where I have it from, I apologize for that). For instance, we used to go out, meet our friends, go to the campus, seeing different types of people and have various kinds of experiences. At the present times, we are having our courses online and meeting up with the friends that are special for us. There is less drama and less adventures since we are not going to parties and create some “drunk stories”. In another way, we have access to information even faster than its before and we don’t really need to memorize anything. For example, for some courses we only need to write an assignment since it would be easier to submit and get graded for, many online exams are open book and more lectures are getting recorded.
Among Us is a short game with rules that are not too difficult. We don’t even have to analyze the other avatar’s appearance too much since the characters are only differentiated by colours and hats. We only pay attention to the other players’ actions to see whether they are the impostor or not. Furthermore, I don’t even remember who the impostor was after I played the game as long as it wasn’t me or my friend, and you don’t have to remember who the imposter was. The game ends and the other one begins, there is no follow up story. I think it is like how some of us don’t even know the name of our classmates that we “meet” on Zoom.
I talked about in this article on how Among Us reflects our society, however, I’m quite sure that the creators of the game didn’t have in mind during 2018. They probably just wanted to make a game on a budget. Despite it, I believe that this game which is created two years ago, reflects our 2020 society in a way and that’s why we like it.