What We Can Learn From the Viral Growth of This Video Game

*Among Us is an online video game that was launched in June of 2018.  Since then, it has become one of the most popular video games in the world.  It has been downloaded over a 100 million times and over 60 million users play it every day.

The multi-player game takes place in a space-themed setting in which players each take on one of two roles, most being Crewmates, and a predetermined number being Impostors.  

The players are dropped onto an alien spaceship.  Crewmates must run around the ship and try to complete a set of tasks while trying to root out and avoid getting killed by the one or several impostors.  

Players can be voted off the ship, so each game becomes one of survival: Successfully vote off the impostors, or complete all your tasks to win.

How did this game succeed?  What has caused the game to go viral?  What is the draw?  Why do so many kids join in and play?  The answers might just give us some ideas on how to better connect with kids.  

Simple is better at times.  The game's graphics are low quality and the movements are awkward.  It has no elaborate features that you see in popular games like Call to Duty.  

Ministry take away:  Sometimes less is more.  Keep your ministry simple and strategic.  Zoom in on what your ministry can do well and focus on those few things.  You can do a lot of things with mediocrity or a few things with excellence.  Today's kids are inundated with complexity.  This makes simple, fun games appealing.

Sociability.  You can easily set up a game with your friends.  Ricky Hayberg, 36, writer and host of Internet Today, a culture and tech YouTube channel, said he’s developed stronger friendships with people he met through playing Among Us over the past two months than those he’s known offline for years.

“There’s more natural conversation that arises from it. It’s more of a party game. You’re kind of just hanging out with friends and the game is secondary,” Mr. Hayberg said. “To excel at the game, you have to know if people are lying, telling the truth and their general personality.”

Ministry take away:  The social factor is a big reason why the game has exploded.  Kids are starving for friends and social interaction.  Set up your rooms so that kids have the opportunity to make friends and interact with each other.    

Here's an example of this.  Rather than having kids sit in rows of chairs their entire time at church, create small groups of kids (6-8) who can sit in a circle and interact with each other. 

The right timing.  The game doesn't ask you to put on a mask and practice social distancing.  This game gives kids a great tool to connect with and interact with their friends at a time when they are looking for opportunities to do this. 

Ministry take away:  Kids long to be connected with friends...especially during a pandemic where they are made to stay in their house all day.  Look for ways to get kids connected with a small group of kids. 

Get key influencers on board.  The Among Us game got some key online influencers on board to help promote it.  YouTube stars. TicToc stars.  Celebraties like PewDiePie, James Charles and Dr. Lupo have all played the game.  

Ministry take away:  Share the vision of what God is leading you to do with your key leaders and kids first.  Get them excited about it before you share it with everyone.

Free.  With our current economic situation, many kids aren't getting their allowance and have been diverted to free resources.

Ministry take away:  During this economic turn down, many ministries have had to cut back on their budget.  Look for more cost effective ways to involve kids and parents.  Monitor your spending closely and make adjustments as needed.  Keep the activities, programs and events simple and offer them free as much as your budget allows.

On-the-go.  Kids can play the game on their phone, tablet or desktop computer.  Today's kids like to play on-the-go.  On the way to the soccer game.  In the waiting room at the doctor's office (with headphones).  Riding in the car on the way to grandma's house.  The game doesn't limit them to only playing with one venue. 

Ministry take away: Don't limit your content, curriculum, lessons, programs, etc. to just Sunday morning.  Use formats and platforms that will help you get your content online.  Find ways to engage kids and parents during the week while they are "on-the-go."

You turn:

Have you ever played Among us?  If so, what are some positives you've picked up from the game that you can translate into children's ministry?  

What are some additional ways we can engage kids during the week? 

How can you use Among Us as a lesson illustration about relationships? 

Share your thoughts, insights and ideas in the comment section below? 

 *This is not an endorsement of the game.  As with all games and programs online, parents should monitor their child's participation.