Written By Kwok Wee Shiang, Singapore
In my recent chats with my friends, new phrases like “That’s sus.” or “You imposter!” have infiltrated our conversations. These are usually met with a knowing grin and a tongue-in-cheek response like “Yeah! Sus!” before laughter ensues among us.
“Sus” is an abbreviation of “suspicious” and it is used in a game of Among Us when someone’s movements and actions seem to betray his or her words—usually claiming to be one of the crewmates.
If you’re starting to get lost, let me give a quick introduction.
What You can Expect in Among Us
In this online multiplayer game, you are stuck with nine other players in a confined location somewhere in space, split into two teams: Crewmates and Imposters. If you are a crewmate, your collective objective is to either complete all tasks assigned to you or vote the Imposters out by a relative majority vote. If you are an imposter, your objective instead is to avoid suspicion and eliminate Crewmates to equal the number of Imposters. You do so either by voting them out by a relative majority vote or killing them when they are trying to do their assigned tasks to win.
The more I heard these game terms used in everyday conversations, the more I wanted to find out how this game had become so popular and pervasive. As I researched the explanations about the game’s success, I unearthed some key learning points, which interestingly, could also apply to our relationship with God.
1. Are we embracing a different way of doing things or are we fixated on just one way of doing things?
The first thing I learned about Among Us surprised me: The game was actually launched in 2018 but had only found success this year. This is rare in the gaming space.
Apparently, Among Us was largely overlooked by the majority of the gaming population in the beginning as it was “awkward to embrace” because its online multiplayer feature was not available at launch (the latter was only added a few months later). That meant that players were forced to sit down together in the same room to play the game.
Only after the online multiplayer feature was introduced, did the gameplay start to be compelling, and this added feature put it ahead of other social deduction games like Mafia, Werewolf and Secret Hitler.
When Among Us exploded in 2020, even the creators and developers did not anticipate its blazing success.
Among Us had taken a step out of the usual formulas of other classic social deduction games, and its success was unparalleled.
The success of Among Us got me thinking about how we navigate our daily lives. Are we open to embracing a different way of doing things? But it’s not simply about doing things differently for the sake of being different. What if God is calling us to trust Him and do things differently, instead of relying on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6)? Can we stop being fixated on our old ways and be open to His ways?
Embracing the changes God intends for us can seem scary because of the unknown. But we also have the assurance that God is always with us (Joshua 1:9).
2. Do we trust in God’s timing and plans instead of trying to make things happen on our own?
The other catalyst that skyrocketed Among Us into the stratosphere was due, in part, to its ballooning viewership on Twitch, a popular live streaming platform.
The game’s simple premise, cute graphics, and accessibility (an online multiplayer game free on mobile devices) catapulted Among Us to the number one position on Twitch.
Still, it was not just that Among Us ticked all the boxes of being a good game to stream, it was also the timing of when the game got picked up by Twitch streamers.
With Covid-19 looming in the background, the game proved to be a small respite to the tedium of the pandemic. Since the game works best as an online multiplayer game, playing Among Us online with friends and strangers is a way of socializing despite social distancing. I have played many hours of the game this way and have seen the upside of how it helps to combat some of our anxiety tied to social isolation and social distancing.
Among Us blew up not in spite of COVID-19 but because of the pandemic. And this reminds me of the part in Scripture which says: There is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:18). Among Us had the makings of a fun game but it took an opportune time and external intervention to propel it to a fantastic game.
Similarly, we can plan all we want, but it doesn’t guarantee success. Timing matters—or more importantly, God’s timing matters. As Proverbs 16:9 tells us, humans can plan their course but the LORD establishes their steps finally. In those situations, do we trust in God’s perfect timing and plan for our lives?
3. Will we wait on God and still persevere when things aren’t going our way?
In the beginning, there were only three people developing Among Us in 2018. Upon release to a lukewarm audience, the temptation to call it quits for the three-man development team was real. It was easier to move on to something else entirely than to keep up an enfeebled endeavor. Still, the developers stuck it out for two years, acting on the feedback given by its then-small player base before eventually getting their break in 2020.
The idea of persevering amid difficulty is a biblical concept. From time to time, I know I have felt the same way about my faith in God when the going gets tough. But as James 1 says,
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
Our perseverance may not guarantee us acclaim in this life, but what we have as the guarantee is something far greater: a forerunner who has gone before us and succeeded, so we can run the race with perseverance and not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
I did not expect my research about the success of Among Us to give me insights about following Christ. But I appreciate the journey it took me on to reflect a bit more about my relationship with God.