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Playing Among Us’ impostor is sweet, tasty catharsis

Stabbing, faking tasks, eat hot chip, and lie

Among Us - two players stand in the admin room on The Skald Image: InnerSloth
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

It feels good to be an impostor in Among Us. Ripping off your friends’ heads and gaslighting the survivors may sound grotesque in theory, but it’s actually great. And the more you play the impostor role, the more joy you can find in these terrible moments. Not even public servant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is immune; during her giant Among Us voting awareness stream, she shanked Pokimane in front of the world, and then laughed. “Sorry, Poki,” she managed between giggles.

Maybe it’s the cute graphics and tiny, faceless beans that make up the world of Among Us that inspires these great scenarios. Among Us is full of murder and betrayal, yet it rarely makes players salty or stern. Maybe it’s just because we’re living in 2020, a year where I can always do with unhinging my entire jaw and damning an entire space expedition. Among Us acts as kind of a good release valve during these stressful times, where the impostor can be as cunning and ruthless as they like.

If you’re tired of being nice, then Among Us finally gives you the opportunity to go hog wild. Even the most modest players can get a good kill, or properly frame a crewmate, with enough tenacity and a little elbow grease. Once a player sees their friend sent spinning into space based off one false allegation, it inspires them. Even plays that go wrong, like being caught in the act of murder, lead to delightful moments that are only possible while playing the impostor.

We can see the sorts of unexpected and dynamic moments that are possible while playing the imposter in a popular comic series by freelance illustrator Xiao Tong, a popular Twitter artist and webcomic creator. During the strips, an imposter watches over a crewmate that they’re fond of — and ultimately goes on to murder anyone who interferes with their friend.

Xiao Tong was inspired by playing Among Us with friends. What transpires in the comic never happened in real life, but she liked the idea of a stoic impostor attached to the sincere, sweet crewmate.

“It was really sketchy and kind of a weird premise that didn’t seem all that appealing to a wider audience,” she told Polygon over Twitter. “The sketches brought me a lot of comfort, so it was nice it had a similar effect to others.”

The series has racked up hundreds of thousands of retweets and likes. Among Us fans relate to the experience of wearing a little leaf cap and entering the vents, and hunting down the crewmate who catches you pulling some alien antics.

We all started the year playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and spent time marveling over cute dresses and great islands. Now, the zeitgeist is about swapping Among Us stories of triumph through chaos.

Many of us have been staying home due to lockdown measures, and all of us are aware of the general geopolitical situation that’s evolved over the course of 2020. Few people are having a particularly good time right now. At the start of quarantine, it was nice to take a break from things by creating dress patterns and building a stone patio. Over time, that feeling of escapism has soured. Sometimes it feels like we’re all sick of being nice; we want to go ape shit.

Playing Among Us’ impostor is like a ray of sunshine through gray storm clouds. Sure, everything is terrible, but this time I get to be the one driving the chaos.

The next level of puzzles.

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