Among Us is an online multiplayer game with over 300 million monthly active users which has become hugely popular among children and young people. Although the game has been around since 2018, its popularity skyrocketed during the summerof 2020 due to lockdown restrictions and after several famous gaming live streamersplayed it on their channels.
But what is it? How does it work and is it safe for children and young people?
Among Us is rated PEGI 7+due to mild violence.
On the Apple App Store, the game is rated as 9+.
Android use PEGI’s 7+ rating as guidance.
What is it?
Among Us is a cartoon-like game that revolves around different players attempting to figure out who is a friend and who is an enemy. Each player is given the role of either Crewmate or Imposter.
Crewmates aim to collectively complete small tasks and ascertain who is an imposter through deduction, deflecting attention away to others, and attempting to catch other users out. The imposter aims to sabotage the crewmate’s mission and kill them, without being found out. This game quickly becomes a game of comical wit, manipulation, and backstabbing.
The game is played on various ‘maps’ and ends in the event of one of the following scenarios:
All imposters are dead and tasks completed.
There is an equal number of crewmates and imposters.
The imposters successfully sabotage enough missions.
Game Updates and Changes
As of early May 2021, Among Us has updated its mobile platform to include direct integrations to Twitch and Discord. While this is great news for avid gaming streamers, there are some concerns over the safeguarding aspects of these platforms.
What is Twitch?
Twitch is a live streaming community for gaming. It allows gamers to share live gameplay for others to watch and comment on, while also providing playback and chat functions for users. This makes sharing gameplay or watching other gamers more accessible, as gamers are no longer restricted to their gaming desktop.
What is Discord?
Discord is a voice, video, and text chat platform made of (mostly) invite-only, private communities. This update makes sharing game chats and room codes much easier.
Players must have full accounts on Twitch and Discord in order to use these updates within the game. Both platforms claim users must be 13+ to create an account, but there is no age verification process.
The public nature of these platforms is a concern as it significantly increases the capacity for stranger interaction. As both are public platforms used for a variety of games, players may be exposed to inappropriate material from other players, videos, or games.
While Discord requires you to have an account to view the platform, Twitch does not. One of our testers was able to search and watch Among Us videos on Twitch without an account simply by visiting the site. They were exposed to inappropriate material almost immediately.
In late March/early April 2021, Among Us developers began to roll out new updates to the game across platforms. These updates include:
The launch of the highly anticipated new ‘Airship’ map.
A new bundle available on the mobile and PC version that includes new skins and hats for characters.
New additional tasks that can be completed as part of the game.
Among Us Accounts
Creating an account is completelyfree.
It is not a requirement to play the game and users can choose to play in guest mode instead
Account holders will have additional benefits, such as being able to choose their own usernames. Players without an account will be assigned a randomly generated username
Account holders can exclusively access ‘Free Chat’, whilst those playing in guest mode will be locked to QuickChat, the chat system that gives only preset options of messages to send to fellow players
Accounts will be device-bound and there’s no way to transfer data from one account to another. For example, if someone creates an account on an iOS device, and then plays on a Nintendo Switch, the data won’t carry across. Only the account on the platform used is visible. Players will have to create multiple accounts if they want to use several different platforms
Users who make offensive comments, harass others, or cheat can now be reported by other players. Game developers say that all reports will be read by real people and consequences for inappropriate behaviorwill range from a temporary to permanent ban.
Children attempting to make an account under the age of 13 will need permission from a parent or carer
Aparent or carercan create an account and give their child access, but they will need to verify this by using a physical credit or debit card
To verify its you, the game holds a fee of £0.30 from your account for 7 days – after that they will then refund the amount back on to your card.
What risks should Parents and Carers be aware of?
Our team of online safety experts have played and tested Among Us and discovered risks that you should be aware of, these include:
Among Us has two different game types, ‘local’ and ‘online’. Playing local, means you are playing with people you know, whereas an online game means it is public and you can play with anyone online
The risk of playing with online strangers is amplified by a chat feature, which has been known to contain adult themes and use of profanity. We recommend using the ‘chat-censor’ feature to filter explicit language in the chatbot. You can also choose to turn the chat feature off completely
The game offers several in-app purchasing options,such as paying to remove advertising and buying different skins, hats, and pets. We would always recommend disabling in-app purchasing
For more information on staying safe, be sure to check out our Among Us resources on our Safety Centre
Innersloth have also announced several updates they are working on for the future, including:
The introduction of a friend system for players
The ability to send and receive gifts between users
Account linking between devices
An expansion to PS4, PS5, and Xbox gaming consoles
Our online safety experts will be keeping an eye on these potential future features.
For more guidance on keeping children and young people safe online, check out the Safeguarding Hub, where you will find lots of free resources for staying safe on various platforms.
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