Feature Article

Among Us Role-Play Is All About Bad Acting

From simple characters to entire stories, Among Us has become a home for role-play.

Ludwig Ahren and Jeremy Wang were bodyguards. They were sticking to their boss like glue, making sure nothing slipped past them. The Polus Outpost is a dangerous place and you never know what to expect from the lava-lined planet.

"The Don's on the move, headed south right now," Ahren said as they left an emergency meeting. His boss was out of sight seconds later. He scrambled to find her. "Oh...uh...we got a bit of an emergency here."

He and Wang, better known by his Twitch handle DisguisedToast, searched far and wide for the missing Don; checking communications, O2, the office, and other buildings in the outpost. They had no luck. "Where's the Don!?" Ahren screamed as he cycled through camera feeds of the outpost. "Just give me some sign of life."

The mysterious disappearance was too much for Ahren as he rushed to vitals, only to see that the Don--the person he was supposed to protect--was dead. Ahren's voice cracked as he screamed in anguish.

Ahren, DisguisedToast, and Lily "LilyPichu" Ki had been playing Among Us so much that they wanted to spice things up a bit. They took on silly characters to add another layer of wackiness to the create-your-own-murder-mystery game. They decided to do a little roleplay. "You guys let me die," Ki whispered through her mic from the in-game beyond.

This is just one example of the type of scenes that get acted out in Among Us role-play where Twitch streamers and Among Us fans take on over-the-top, dramatic, and sometimes nonsensical roles to spice up their time on The Skeld and Polus. Some have used role-play as a way to build out the non-existent lore of Among Us while streamers, like Ludwig and DisguisedToast, use role-play as a way to entertain their viewers.

"Roleplaying makes winning less important."

Twitch streamer Ludwig Ahren

Role-play is common in games. Streamers and others have gained a following by running bank heists and taking on unique character builds in games like Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. You can browse through Twitch and find a number of streamers role-playing right now.

Among Us, due to both its major popularity and moldability, makes it a perfect candidate for role-play. It's a party game that's exciting to watch when people with big personalities play. Viewers have responded, watching 1.5 billion hours of Among Us on Twitch over the last few months, so it's even better when those big personalities clash in ways we haven't seen before.

Among Us soldier roleplay. Credit: Xx_MLG_NOSCOPER_M8xX
Among Us soldier roleplay. Credit: Xx_MLG_NOSCOPER_M8xX

Role-play is common in public lobbies, too. Some players pretend to be soldiers on a military base with impostors filling the spy-behind-enemy-lines role. Kill cooldown timers for the impostors are reduced to 10 seconds, because soldiers are experienced. Games tend to be over quickly, but they're full of bloodshed. Others have taken on the roles of major figures from history--like Joseph Stalin--trying to court random players to their causes. Once courted, his followers will vote off whoever Stalin tells them to. But what happens when an impostor kills Stalin? What happens when the impostor is Stalin?

Among Us doesn't have any official lore, so players have used these role-play scenarios to add depth to the game. Some of these role-players don't even play the game when they role-play. They build context around the game's crewmates, impostors, tasks, and levels, all by typing it out over Discord.

"His hair spiking up like a cat--he was caught off guard and did not like it," wrote one role-player introducing his character, Gato, to another for the first time. "Great, fantastic," his character muttered, wanting to be alone. Interactions in the cafeteria and medbay that take seconds in-game are drawn out to highlight every minor detail in the "Time Loop" role-play Discord server.

"The fact Among Us is so barebones gives us so much creative freedom," the Discord's founder tells GameSpot. They, along with other mods in the server, have created an original story built of the backdrop of The Skeld map. "There are infinite options to explore."

Among Us Discord roleplay expands the fan-made universe. Credit: InnerSloth
Among Us Discord roleplay expands the fan-made universe. Credit: InnerSloth

"The Loop" attempts to recreate the short form nature of an Among Us match with a story centered around a time loop. The role-play resets every so often to the moment everyone arrives on the ship. Everyone's memories are erased--letting players make tweaks to their characters with every loop.

"Originally my character was a very happy-go-lucky guy who was on the ship simply because it was his job," said Gato's role player, adding that The Loop helps him learn about his character, and change them, over time. "But now he's more down-to-earth and a bit more cautious of others, who joined the mission because of his desire to go to space since childhood."

The setting of Among Us combined with the time loop narrative lets roleplayers dive into their roles for weeks on end while letting them experiment and try new things. It's something that's unique to roleplay, "The time loop gives more opportunities to establish characters in different lights," said one player. "It's really fun."

The server even uses some of the mechanics from Among Us to shape how the story plays out. Scenes where a crewmate is killed by an impostor are held in private one-on-one messages--overseen by the server mods--so that no one else can see what happened in the leadup to the murder.

Role-playing has helped these Among Us fans grow closer to each other, even if a couple of them are trying to kill everyone else. Friendships between characters have evolved into friendships between role-players, even if their character doesn't make it off the ship safely.

"It's definitely made us closer."

Among Us Discord Roleplayer

Both types of role-play, either acted or written on the fly, make each session more than just a game. It's become a unique moment shared with friends, either intimately with a small group or in front of an audience of thousands.

In-game cosmetics, including modded ones, add flare to roleplays.
In-game cosmetics, including modded ones, add flare to roleplays.

Role-playing doesn't make it easier to win in a match of Among Us--it actually might make it more difficult to build trust with other players. But you might be able to pull off an upset if you're a good enough actor who can lie convincingly at a moment's notice. But sometimes the role-play might work in your favor.

DisguisedToast, the Don, and everyone else on the outpost was dead. Only Ludwig and two other streamers, Sykkuno and Wenderful, were left. "Sykkuno you have one question to answer," Ludwig said. "Do you think I would kill the Don?"

"Here's why I don't think you killed her," Sykkuno replied. "She said 'You guys let me die,' which means you must've not killed her. She would've said something like 'you betrayed me.'" Both Sykkuno and Luwig cast their votes for Wenderful (after some valid complaints about Ki talking after she died) and threw her into a pool of lava.

"Sykkuno, you son of a b****," Ludwig muttered before the victory screen came up. "You've cracked it again." Wenderful was the impostor. The Don was avenged.

Scenes like this transform Among Us from an exciting party game about deception into a canvas for performance. Once a player commits to a character the goal becomes less about winning and more about seeing a their character clash with the murder and lies that are central to this virtual version of Mafia.

"Role-playing makes winning less important," Ludwig tells GameSpot. "But I’d go further and say winning is almost never the most important thing. Making sure everyone in the lobby is having fun and the viewers are entertained are more important than winning. Role-play is a way to achieve that."

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