The multiplayer game "Among Us" is the latest hit on Twitch & Co.
A few months ago no one could have suspected that the harmless online party game "Among Us" could become the scene of political disputes.
On October 20th, the Democratic MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, together with the streamers Pokimane and Hasanabi, will broadcast a game of the game on their Twitch channel and encourage the young target group to participate in the US presidential election in November.
Three days later, hackers and trolls flooded chats in public games with the message "Subscribe to Eris Loris | Trump2020".
According to the developer, up to 1.5 million games are affected.
Behind the pseudonym Eris Loris is a YouTube channel that provides instructions on cheats and hacks in video games and whose operator obviously supports the incumbent president.
A connection to the official Trump campaign is not known.
The developers reacted quickly and were able to fix part of the problem with the massive spam attacks.
Nevertheless, they called on players to use the function of private, closed games for the time being and not to play their games in public.
Origins at Moscow University
When the student Dimitry Davidoff developed "Mafia" in 1986, it was initially only intended as a psychology group exercise at the University of Moscow.
The game concept is simple.
Up to 20 players are divided into two groups.
The mafiosi bring a victim around the corner in every round, the ignorant survivors then have to discuss and vote on who the murderers could be.
Under the name "The Werewolves of Mirkwood", the game became popular at parties, but digital offshoots remained rather unsuccessful.
Except for the inconspicuous "Among Us", a "Mafia" with mini games that has become a streaming hit in the past few months.
That's what "Among Us" is about
Amy Liu, Marcus Bromander and Forest Willard aka Innersloth will publish the indie title for iOS and Android first.
The game will also be released on the Steam gaming platform in November 2018.
The action is shifted from the fantasy and mafia setting to a space station in space.
In LAN or online games, up to ten players control brightly colored, cute animated astronauts from above.
Among them is at least one so-called impostor.
While the rest of the crew connects wires according to color in minigames or transports petrol cans from A to B and thus fills a progress bar, the Impostor can, for example, sabotage the lighting and bring the crew members around the corner as unnoticed as possible.
If a corpse is discovered and reported, the group discussion starts with an attached vote.
What counts now is good alibis or a knack for lying in order not to be voted out as a supposed - or real - impostor and thrown out of the airlock and thus out of the game.
A little indie game on the big stage
The potentially heated discussions in particular are made for a public performance in front of a large audience.
That’s why it’s popular streamers who bring "Among Us" into the spotlight.
Although the game is slowly but surely gaining popularity in 2019 through isolated streams from Mexico and South Korea, the Twitch celebrity Chance Morris alias Sodapoppin is the first to make the breakthrough.
In July 2020, Morris will stream the game for its almost three million followers, world-famous streamers such as Pewdiepie and Ninja are quickly following suit.
Success is not long in coming.
In September, up to 750,000 people watch "Among Us" streams simultaneously on Twitch, catapulting the title into the top 3 streamed games.
On YouTube, videos for the game alone received four billion views last month.
The spectrum of clips ranges from specially composed songs to animated short films and normal streams.
The "Among Us" fever is not limited to pure game streams.
Meme profiles are sprouting up on social media with hundreds of thousands of followers, and the associated sub-forum on the Reddit platform now has almost 700,000 registered users.
A large international fast food chain also jumps on the bandwagon and presents its vegan burger as an impostor among the unsuspecting crew.
A corona-compliant party game as an alternative to the zoom call
The sudden success also hits the Innersloth team completely unexpected.
Only in August do Liu, Bromander and Willard announce "Among Us 2".
Less than a month later, the successor will be pulped again.
The reason: You want to concentrate on the further development of the first part and take the sudden surge in popularity with you.
While around 30 players were on the road at the same time in the original mobile version at the time of release, there are now an average of 300,000 on Steam alone.
According to estimates by the analysis services Steamspy and Playtracker, the title has sold between six and seven million times since its publication - an accolade for a tiny indie game.
"Among Us" owes its meteoric rise to streamers, but its continued popularity is likely to have other reasons as well.
The intuitive controls and the simple game principle simplify the interaction between PC and mobile phone users.
Even after they are eliminated, players can still support their respective group as ghosts, so there is hardly any idle time.
In addition, the maximum group size of ten people makes every game a personal experience.
Especially when you do not meet for a 08/15 zoom conversation with friends in times of corona isolation, but roam through a space station in a teasing and tricky way.
Icon: The mirror