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Among Us: What does it mean to be a “social deduction” game?

(Image Credit: PC Games N)
(Image Credit: PC Games N)
Izaak
ANALYST
Modified 22 Oct 2020, 00:58 IST
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Among Us has managed to shine a light on social deduction games as a whole with its explosive success. However, social deduction games have been around for quite a while, though never quite with the same degree of success. Let’s take a look at what ties them together, and why the genre still has a lot of room to grow.

What makes Among Us a social deduction game?

All social deduction games generally follow a similar pattern: players are secretly separated into teams and one team has to identify the other. The exact theme or flavor of those teams varies from game to game, and the limitations on what is possible depends heavily on whether it’s played online or in person.

For example, Town of Salem and Among Us have certain freedoms not available to games like Secret Hitler, and as a result the games focus on different aspects of social deduction.

Additionally, while the tools used by both teams can vary game to game, they all have communication as a central part of gameplay.

In Among Us, the tools for imposters include sabotages and kills, while crewmates have tasks as a source of inevitability. Secret Hitler gives fascists the ability to coordinate powers, while liberals outnumber them, and they must compete for special one-time-use presidential powers.

How does Among Us differ from other social deduction games?

The biggest separation in social deduction games is between those that are more action oriented and those that are more meeting oriented. Among Us falls clearly within the action oriented games, or those in which the players are expected to perform actions throughout the game, with limited meeting or coordination time available.

This can be seen in the way that Among Us players have to fulfil tasks, and physically move around a 2D space in order to gather evidence about their location.

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Town of Salem and Secret Hitler exist at the opposite end of that spectrum, with all or a majority of the game time used for meetings where players can communicate their information and attempt to coordinate. In this case, the goal is for the innocent team (town, liberals) to stop the other team before they can achieve their goals.

Games with a higher emphasis on communication and coordination test the players’ abilities to strategize with minimal information, and for the enemy team to disrupt that strategy. Among Us differs in that it emphasizes creating opportunity in a 2D space more than creating opportunity during meetings, although it does not remove the communication aspect from the game.

Among Us lets you choose what kind of social deduction game you want to play

Of course, Among Us doesn’t just get played one way. Players also have the option of using the highly customizable options to gear the game towards how they want to play it. If you want to deemphasize the actionable parts of the game you can increase view distance, add on a ton of tasks, and increase the kill cool downs.

If you’d rather play a game that is more about using the actionable parts of Among Us, such as sabotages and moving through the map, then you can reduce kill cooldowns and view distances to allow for more action to take place.

But regardless of how you want to play, Among Us is a great entry into the social deduction genre of games.

Published 22 Oct 2020, 00:58 IST
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