What Exactly Is 'Among Us,' AOC's Favorite Twitch Game?

Who is sabotaging our spaceship???

aoc among us twitch

If you tuned in to Twitch, or were on social media at all on Tuesday night, you probably saw lots of talk about New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a game called Among Us, in which a bunch of cute little astronauts run around a spaceship and try to kill each other. AOC's Twitch debut peaked at about 435,000 viewers—one of the biggest debut streams in the site's history. If you're not a gamer or you're not constantly plugged in to What's Going On In The World, you were probably wondering what all the fuss was about. Thankfully for you, we're here to help, so that next time a congressperson does a Get Out the Vote Twitch stream, you'll be in on all the fun jokes. 

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What is Among Us

Among Us is a computer game developed by the company InnerSloth and released in 2018, described as an "online multiplayer social deduction game" wherein up to ten players run around inside a virtual spaceship completing classic spaceship maintenance tasks while trying to figure out who the "Impostors" are before they kill everyone. Remember that sleepover game Mafia? It's basically that, except you're blobby little astronauts. 

If you're interested, it's available on Steam right now for $4.99.

Why is it such a big deal now? 

Though it was made available more than two years ago, Among Us has only become super popular pretty recently, as tons of famous gamers and online streamers with large followings have been playing it in quarantine. The Twitch streamer Sodapoppin is credited with initially popularizing the game, and now it's become a meme on Twitter and TikTok. It's a great game for quarantine, since you don't all have to be in the same place, yet it offers a little more connection with other players than something like World of Warcraft. Plus, every round is a little mystery, and you get to trick people! How fun! The game got so popular, in fact, that in August 2020 InnerSloth announced they'd be making a sequel, before quickly deciding to scrap their sequel plans and spend their time making the existing game better. 

In AOC's case, she floated the idea of a Twitch stream online a few days before her game as part of a campaign to remind people to vote in the 2020 election. "I voted early!" she said every time she was the first to cast her vote on which of the players should be excommunicated from their spaceship. 

How do you play? 

At the start of the game, anywhere from four to ten players are randomly assigned a role on their spaceship, the Skeld. You can be either a regular Crewmate, for which you'll be given a list of tasks to complete before the round ends—anything from examining your vitals in the medical bay to plotting the ship's trajectory—or you'll be an Impostor, pretending to do fake tasks while actually singling out players on the ship and killing them. You also have the option of sabotaging the entire ship, venting oxygen or breaking the reactor so people have to run around fixing stuff. 

When a body is found, whoever finds it alerts the other players, and a meeting is called to discuss who they think the Impostor is (or are, if there are several). They vote, and whoever gets the most votes is vented out the airlock and the round resumes until another body is found or someone calls an emergency meeting. Your objective if you're an Impostor is to lie as convincingly as possible so that everyone casts votes for all the players except for you. If there are multiple Impostors and you are one, you can see who the other one is so you don't go after each other. 

If you're a Crewmate, your visual area is reduced to the immediate space around you (even smaller if someone turns off the lights). If you're an Impostor, you can see where everyone else is on the screen. You can also look at the cameras in certain rooms where you can watch other players in other parts of the ship. It's important to keep in mind, though, that even if you saw someone kill right in front of you, not everyone may believe you when you tell the rest of the crew. 

What is venting? 

Venting is an ability that Impostors have that allows them to hop into any of the vents on the pathway to travel around the map, or simply hide from other players. Crewmates can see it if you vent, so make sure to do it only when you're sure no one else is around. 

What is… "marinating"…?

If you tuned in to AOC's Twitch stream, you probably heard the players talk about something called "marinating," wherein a player gains another player's trust in a round before finding the opportune moment to kill them. During the stream, expert player Disguised Toast "marinated" AOC by following her around in previous rounds while he was a regular Crewmate, claiming that he was "protecting" her. Then, in a round in which he was assigned Impostor, he continued his behavior, following her around for a while before suddenly striking her down. Sneaky! Also a classic move to play in something like Among Us, where long-con trickery is the name of the game. 

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Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.