A GAME CALLED - AMONG US



Age Recommendations-


Apple 9+

Google Play 10+

Includes : In app purchases, and ads


Safe on Social recommends that younger children play this game with known friends and family only either in Private game groups or through Local Multiplayer arrangements.


This online game has become the go-to entertainment of the past few months.

The game is very simple, and has been in existence since 2018, but its popularity has exploded with the advent of the global pandemic.

The game is available on all mobile devices and on computer where it has a substantial following on Discord, and Steam.

Players on the game streaming service Twitch, TikTok and major YouTube stars have all played with millions of viewers tuning in. As an example of just HOW popular this game is, a recent New York Times articles referenced at least 200 millions hours logged by users viewing others playing the game on Twitch alone just this year.

The majority of players come from the 13 -20 age group, but the numbers of adults participating is increasing.


What it is?


The premise is simple.

The game involves 4-10 players being confined on a space ship in desperate need of repairs. Every player is given a random designation as either a crew mate or an imposter. Players must move around the space ship trying to complete given tasks while trying to out the imposters before they destroy the ship. Players suspected of being the imposter are voted off the ship by team members, with the loser being ejected from an airlock into space.

An imposter is actually an alien, seeking to murder the crew before the repairs can be completed. The crew wins when they complete the repairs, the imposter when all the crew have been taken out.


The graphics are very simple, with minimal graphic realties that are typical to many online multiplayer games.


In reality there is a considerable similarity to old school board games such as Cluedo. This is an online “whodunit” where once dead, the player may still watch the outcome, but must remain silent about their death and who killed them.


There is a 90 second window offered at times throughout the game where players are able text chat and grill the other players on their suspicions and deductions.


Most messaging is between player is via text windows, and the language content is heavily censored. Drop the F- bomb, and all you will see is ****.

Users names may at times border on the offensive and these are not censored.


At this time, the game itself does not offer multiplayer live chat.


BUT.


It is possible to use third party chat apps whilst playing, with Discord being the most versatile and the most common. Given that Discord is largely an invite only chat room host, players can control the access to voice chat , not allowing random players to join the conversation without an invite to a private chat space. Controls available on Among Us support the invitation only nature of many Discord chat rooms.


Issues.


The behaviours - required to survive on the spaceship, and ultimately obtain victory over team mates involves flattering the strong, attacking the weak, lying, obfuscating and engaging in deceptive behaviours.

The subterfuge necessary to stay on the space ship may not be reflective of values parents wish to see their younger children engaging in or learning about, nor may the requirement that the imposter must assassinate all other team members to win appeal.


The major online safety risk presented by Among Us is located within the public playing section of the game.

This matches players from across the globe randomly, regardless of age, gender or location.

Navigating such a wide variety of the population is challenging for adults, and children are put in a position where a game requires them to converse via text with strangers. This is less than ideal, particularly depending on the age of the child. They may be asked leading questions ,or find themselves in inappropriate conversation, or share too much personal information.

This public space, unsupervised is not recommended for younger users of the app.

There are options with the game that allow players to prevent unknown, random users joining in, and controlling the individuals who participate.


In app purchases are available. This maybe irresistible for a child, so using a prepaid credit card with a set limit can prevent any accidental purchases being run up without a parent being aware.


The developer’s original intent was for this game to played in the same room as the other players and as a family activity. This could provide an entertaining option, and allow parents to engage with their children online, and at the same time model good digital behaviour. By choosing the Local or Private Online options the game offers- this intention can be fulfilled by avoiding the risks of online, random matches for game play, and keep the focus within the family and close friends.


How to tailor Among Us to play with selected friends and family only


· In the Main Menu Select Online

· Enter your user name is the top field

· Choose from the options Host, Public, or Private.

· Host allows you to create a game session.

· Selecting Create Game, and following the instruction to customise the game, also offers the Private or Public choices. Public allows entry to random players globally, Private creates an access code to be sent to specifically invited friends or family members.

· The code provided is entered into the Private section of the individual’s Online menu.


Public allows you to play with random individuals across the globe. ( This is the option to avoid. This area of the game is the concern for text chat occurring with strangers and younger users of the game.)


Private allows you to join a game a friend is hosting. You will need an access code given to you by the games host you must use to join the game. This method controls which individuals may participate in each game.


Families may elect to establish Among Us games by Hosting a session , or ensuring their child and their friends play in Online, Private mode.




Local Multiplayer


Players are able to host a game locally. This is applicable when all the prospective players are on the same WiFi network. By selecting the local option, over the online one, then follow the steps to create a game. An automatic room for the group will be created, where they may wait for the game to begin and there is no requirement for a special code to be issued. Friends on the network will simply need to choose the local option, and select the name of the host to join.This is a safe way to allow a group of younger children to play.


Summary.


Play this with your children first before letting them play on their own so you know what they are exposed to. Please respect the age restrictions and keep a look out for if they change to a higher age. Given the fact that they can play against strangers, we would expect the game recommendation to be revised.

Decide for yourself if this game is appropriate for your child.

Advise younger players to keep all personal details and other social media accounts private.

Create a group of personal friends to play together and use either the Online Private group option, or set up a Local Multiplayer arrangement.


“Among us” is everywhere right now and looks to only expand in popularity, of the games being currently played, responsible use can lead to considerable fun if basic online safety rules be followed and families with younger players emphasis a focus on the Private and Local methods of game play.

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