Among Us has been the surprise hit online game of the pandemic.
Launched in 2018, the game that can be played on mobile or PC, has seen a sudden spike in interest over the past few months owing to the fact that you can play with friends or family while maintaining social distancing – all you need is a Wi-Fi or data connection.
The premise is simple. Games usually have 10 players, but it can be less, with each player a crew mate on the spaceship. However, two of the crew are imposters whose goal is to eliminate everyone else before they are discovered.
The crew win the game by finishing their tasks or figuring out who the imposters are and kicking them off the ship. While the imposters win if they kill everyone on board or get the crew to vote one another off the ship.
Since the game doesn't require much skill and can be played relatively fast – about 10-15 minutes, although it can vary – it can be addictive. And by September, Among Us had been downloaded over 100 million times, boasting 60 million active daily users.
Cheating in 'Among Us'
However, as word-of-mouth spreads and more players join, there's a big issue the game developers, InnerSloth, need to address: the cheating. As shown by Twitter user @Poco_BrawlStars, imposters are able to access a cheat hack to gain advantages such as being able to avoid a kill cooldown – a 10 to 60 second time slot when crew mates are safe from being eliminated.
However, it isn’t just a code that has damaged the gaming experience. Players have also been joining crews with friends and revealing to one another who the imposter is after they’re killed, making it a real buzzkill for anyone playing fair. As of now, there’s no way to report these actions within the game.
Last week, programmer, Forest Willard told Kotaku they were working on an account system, as well as both server and client-side hack prevention. Currently, you do not need an account to sign in and play.
“[We're] also getting help with making the servers better at detecting and blocking hacks, and investigating client-side hack prevention as well," wrote Willard. "I’m sort of scrambling to get all the right people in place, but I’m attacking it from multiple angles so it can get better in many ways hopefully all at once.”
What can be done to stop cheating in 'Among Us'?
Right now, not much. There's no way to directly report players who are cheating. But there are two options available: if you are the room host, you can ban the player from your game (but they’ll be free to play elsewhere), or if you suspect someone is cheating, you can choose to vote them out of the game. Unfortunately, there aren't any real consequences to either of those actions as they can just hop into another game. The moral victory, however, will be yours.
So while Among Us continues to enjoy its meteoric rise in the gaming world, hopefully it won't come at a cost to the integrity of the game. What was once a fun game to play among strangers has at times felt frustrating and upsetting because of how much cheating goes on.
If you're an imposter who is discovered in the first or second round because a player you killed told their friend, where's the fun in that? Or if you're an imposter who can kill crewmates by cheating, what's the point?
The only thing gamers can ask is that while InnerSloth works on ways to prevent cheating, players should simply not ruin everyone else's fun. Among Us is a game that felt needed during a time when staying socially distant became the new norm, and has brought many people a great deal of joy. So, how about just doing the right thing and playing by the rules?