This past week I finally got around to playing the most recent game to blow up in the popular consciousness, Among Us. After playing it for a couple hours with some friends, I could easily understand why it has become so popular. There are many things that make Among Us enjoyable, from the social aspect of players debating who the killer is, to the satisfying minigames the crew must do to perform their tasks. However, what I want to focus on in this post is a feature of Among Us I am less then thrilled with: its map.
To clarify, I have no gripe with the layouts of the three Among Us maps. I found them to be delightfully diverse in terms of layout, tasks, and theme. My beef with the maps is related to what could described as their “glitchy-ness”. For example, when a player is going down a hallway it easy is for them to overlap with the wall border. This can sometimes make it seem like the player is coming out of nowhere or acting in a strange way, leading to misinterpretation from other players. The goal of Among Us is to identify who on the ship is the Imposter, which is commonly done by claiming the person believed to be said Imposter is acting suspicious. To test this, I jumped on a random server and purposely maneuvered in a way where my character glitched with the wall. I was not the Imposter, but several other players claimed I was due to how the glitching occurring between my character and the wall (their reasoning was it looked similar to when the Imposter “vents”, a technique that allows them to teleport around the ship).
Some may argue that situations such as this are not a bad thing. Misinterpretation, false signs, and dubious claims are some of the bread and butter of Among Us, so what’s the harm? While I understand this line of thinking, I don’t feel it makes sense to justify such an obvious glitch by saying it’s a necessary part of gameplay. Granted, sometimes glitches in games can be fun and it’s ok for a community to (more or less embrace) them. In my opinion, where things start getting sticky is when glitches start to mingle too closely with the essential aspects of a game. Consider what would happen if the Among Us team released a patch that adjusted the walls so players could not clip over them. It would remove the dynamic I previously described of falsely interpreting (intentionally or unintentionally) an innocent players movements, taking away gameplay. Glitches can be fine to have in a game, but developers need to be careful they do not become too intertwined with the game’s important intentional aspects.
Among Us. Redmond, WA: Innersloth, 2018.
All screenshots taken by author.