Real-life 'Among Us' gets kids off screens - and into teamwork

If your kids love gaming, and can sit absorbed for hours playing online, you may have asked yourself: “If only real life were like a video game!” Well, actually it can be.

With a little ingenuity, you can “gamify” just about anything to hook kids’ attention. Even chores!

To prove the point, let’s take a look at the hottest online game of the moment, “Among Us,” and some of the ways smart digital parents are bringing its magic to life in the off-line world. 

The basic gameplan

First, a few basics if you’re an “Among Us” newbie. 

In its online version, “Among Us” is a multiplayer murder mystery game set in outer space. (Are you following this?)

Teams consist of crewmates and imposters, who go about the ship performing tasks and trying not to get killed. As you do.

amongus2

The mission of the crewmates is to find and kill the imposter, working together in team meetings. The imposter meanwhile aims to eliminate as many crewmates as possible to evade detection.

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It’s all about strategy, task-completion and teamwork - and yes, okay, about “murder” (but only of the most stylised variety). So when you think about it like that, it’s no mystery - get it? - that clever parents have seen an opportunity to translate the game to real life.

It’s a process called “gamification” - where elements of game play like point scoring, role play, team-building, and battling a common enemy, are applied offline to achieve real-life goals.

“Always a crowd-pleaser”

Mum of two and Family Zone Community Manager Jessica Hill has devised a version of “Among Us” to occupy three or more kids screen-free during playdates - or when grown-ups are in need of some adult time, like at the local pub. 

Setting it up is simple. 

  • The parent, who acts as referee, picks the imposter (while the others face the other way with eyes closed). The rest are crewmates.
  • The parent gives out tasks. These could be scavenger-hunt-like challenges (“Find a yellow flower”). They could revolve around completing an obstacle course (“Twice around the pub outdoor tables”). They could be fun stunts (“Juggle for 10 secs”). Or, they could be actual tasks (“Pick up rubbish,” “Fold a basket of laundry,” etc.) 
  • The parent chooses a “buzzer” - a bell, whistle or just a word that gets called out to convene a team meeting.
  • That happens when a player is found to be acting “suss” - i.e., like an imposter - and the others meet secretly to discuss strategy. (Notes Jessica, Suss behaviour "can be anything or nothing at all. Kids just love calling meetings.”)
  • Players are “killed” by being voted out.

The kids eat it up, says Jessica - although she doesn’t entirely understand why.

“It’s the weirdest game. Kids just walk around in circles doing all the tasks!” 

Another ingenious version of real-life “Among Us” comes from “The Quirky Mom Next Door”, this one focused on getting kids to have fun while doing household chores.

shutterstock_504675331In this gamification, the parent writes tasks for each crewmate (and the secretly designated imposter) on a sheet of paper. The challenge for crewmates is to finish all their tasks before the imposter eliminates them. The imposter’s job - in addition to completing their own tasklist - is to eliminate the crewmates.

The Chore Version Rules

  • Every player is given a list of chores to complete and must check them off as they are completed. 
  • To eliminate a player, remove their hat and drop it where they stand. 
  • When a player finds a hat, they have “found a body” and must call for a meeting. (There are a few ways to do this: Shout “Meeting” loudly. Use an intercom to announce a meeting. Take the hat to admin - aka Mum or Dad.)  
  • Just as in online “Among Us,” you can still do your chores while “dead.”
  • Players are voted off by popular vote. 
  • No yelling or talking - it gives away the Impostor too easily.

“Honestly, it looks so boring,” laughs Jessica. “But I guess that proves how different adults and kids are. They don’t need anything complicated to get hooked into gameplay - just a few simple rules and a good old-fashioned dose of ‘let’s pretend.’”

Roblox, Among Us: Popular games and their dangers. How to manage the risks and minimise overuse in your home. [Select a time]

 

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Topics: Cyber Bullying, Parental Controls, Screen time, Pornography, Mobile Apps, Excessive Device Usage, online gaming, gamification, among us

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