Cindy Crushes Programming: Among Us in Real Life, by Teen Librarian Cindy Shutts
Today I have Faith Healy with me again talking about our in person live Among us Program.
Among Us in Real Life
With the game Among us springing into popularity especially with teens, we have tried several approaches to incorporating the game into our teen programming. During the summer when we just had virtual programming we tried multiple game nights of Among Us to varying success getting 5-10 teens at some, and just one teen at others.
When we finally were able to start planning in-person programming we talked about having a special after hours program that we used to do for teens pre-covid. We decided to take a chance since Among Us was going a little out of style to play Among Us in real life.
So Among Us for those who don’t know is like a mafia style video game (The party game Mafia or some might know it as werewolf). TLTer Karen Jensen and her Tween take you through a walk through of Among Us in this past post.
You have a group of crewmates who are aboard a spaceship, but unbeknownst to them so are two imposters. The imposters try to kill the crewmates while crewmates try to either figure out who the imposter is or finish all their tasks before the impostors kill everyone.
It is simple enough to take the concept and apply it to the real world. You just need a system to apply roles, tasks for crewmates to complete, and a method for killing without actually killing anyone.
So in order to create tasks, I first found a blueprint map of my library. I erased, by using the paint program, all the unnecessary items like where bookshelves are located and other information to make it look super basic. I also got rid of areas I knew we would not allow teens to be and put red Xs in areas that I couldn’t erase without making the map look strange. I then label each section. You want to do this first, because knowing the layout will help you come up with tasks. I’m lucky that my library is just one floor. Depending how big your library is I would limit it to one floor unless you have enough staff to man each section. I used labels from the Among Us game for each section. I did not use all the labels in the Among Us game as we only have so much space. I also set one section aside to be an airlock. In the Among Us game, dead crewmates, and crewmates who are voted out are sent to the airlock. I used the airlock so those players could hangout somewhere while the game went on. (We realized halfway through the event we needed to place games of other materials to keep dead players from being bored as some rounds went on for a very long time)
After labeling my locations it was time to decide on tasks.
I did find this website that had a free downloadable PDF with tasks available on it, but I only used a few as I couldn’t figure out how to make some of the suggestions work. (see link below)
You want the tasks to be easy but tedious and requiring some focus so impostors can kill crewmates who are too focused on tasks. You can also do multiple tasks to make more depending on how many people you have signed up.
So in the game, your character MedBay scans by hopping on a machine. My library happens to have a scan station so I decided to incorporate that as a Medbay scan. We also have a button machine, so I made among us figure buttons for all teens. I did two of each color to prevent any arguments over colors. I had teens scan the buttons in the scanner to be medbay scan. It taught them how to use a library device and had fun during the game. Plus they loved that they got to keep the buttons. If you don’t have a scanner you can always take a hula hoop and make the teens spin around in it to be similar to the game.
So this one I took from the PDF. I cut out and laminated pieces of a memory game for teens to do to activate the reactor. Teens absolutely hated this task. But it leads to the game being more fun. It is very similar to the Simon Says Task in the game which makes it perfect.
So in the Among Us game, people connect wires in each location so I applied the same to my game. To make wires, I again went to the Among Us in Real Life PDF. It has a section called fix wires. I laminated it and instead of cutting all the holes, I cut fun patterns and used yarn to be my wires. Some teens like wires, some teens hated them, but it was an easy and inexpensive task I could have at each location.
So in the Among Us Game, you go to different locations to download info and other locations to upload. I wanted something like that, but to make it book related. So what I did was make every location that had a service desk, have a list of books that just so happen to be on my weeding list. Whenever teens had that task they had to go to the desk to get a book title and retrieve the book and upload it to the meeting room. This gave the task multiple steps and me some help with weeding. It also forced teens to go into teen room to find books.
So the PDF mentioned above had a shield puzzle which was good, but instead of cutting something out, I had a cool YA book puzzle. So I decided to make them connect four puzzle pieces to activate shields, another one that teens were not so fond of, but they did it.
This was the most popular with teens. I only made two of this task, but if I do this again, I would make more. I printed out asteroids in the free PDF, laminated them, cut them out, and taped them on plastic cups that I then arranged in a tower. We had nerf guns that teens used to shoot the asteroids. I made it part of the task that teens had to pick up nerf bullets and restack tower. Teens were really great at clean up.
So in the game, you had to pick up garbage so we did the same here. You can do it in multiple locations, we just crumbled up a few pieces of scrap paper on tables in certain locations and laid plastic bag nearby. Teens had to pick up the papers and carry it to a box that we labeled the trash compactor in the meeting room.
Fill Up Gas:
So in the game, you are on a ship that needs to be gassed up. So I labeled two bowls upper and lower engine thus placed them in the engine room. I placed a box of beads in another location with a cup. So teens had to go to fill up the cup with beads, place it in “engines.” I was going to use water, but worried about spilling so I used beads since I had so many of them. You can use anything as your fuel, you just want different locations to force teens to go somewhere else
So in the game there is a fun little simple maze game where you chart your course. I was looking for one of those little mini maze games to use for that, but I couldn’t find any. So I built my own simple maze out of cardboard, duct tape, and hot glue and had teens use a ball and roll it through the maze. This was another popular activity.
In the game, there is a fun task, or at least fun to me, where you have to get leaves out a filter. I replicated this task using a clear plastic bag, green beads and duct tape. I taped a section of the bag to be the area the teens needed to get the green “leaves” to. I sealed the bag with as little air as possible with duct tape so teen had to press hard to move the leaves to that section.
So this is a task I designed all my own. I just printed out 12 copies color wheel, labeled different sections of each wheel with 1-6, cut out cardstock circles to fit over color wheel, while cutting a slice from each circle. I then connected the circles with a pin back so when you move the cardstock portion it showed a different part of the color wheel. I made 12 of these and taped them to bookshelves. Teen had to move the circle to locate numbers 1-6, but had to do it in order. This took parts of the electrical calibrator task from the game along with the switch task, to make a fun, but semi annoying task that teens like. They liked moving the circles.
So We have a room in my library that is sort like a tunnel that I assigned to be label as a vent, in which only imposters can vent. It does have windows so crewmates can catch an imposter venting. I wanted to add to the chaos thus have a task where crewmates go into the vent. To clean the vent, crewmates just walk through, but if spotted others might think they are the imposter.
So in the game, you have to realign the ship or engines. I couldn’t find a good way to replicate it, but as I mention we have a button machine that looks like a cool lever so I decided to realign the ship all the teens had to do was switch the lever. Yes, I could have made another lever, or used something else, but I was short on time and teens liked it. Plus no harm came to the machine.
So I printed out and laminated sheets of paper that had crewmate and imposter on them. I stuffed them into envelopes that we cut in half. To view, teens peeked inside, saw their role and placed the envelope bag.
These are rules I designed to make the came work smoothly.
- No running! Non-negotiable. If you are told more than once, sorry you died and will wait it out in the airlock.
- No access to forbidden areas. On the map areas with Red X’s are forbidden. Non-negotiable
- Playing Among Us
- Players with take roles. Look at role card and place back. No one is to reveal their role.
- When prompted by the captain, players will shut eyes and imposter will reveal self to the captain to receive first kill card.
- When you are an imposter you kill players by handing them a card. First one will be given when revealed once roll assigned.
- Imposter may pick up additional kill cards from the desks allowing for a kill cool down. Use word Library Card to indicate need for kill card.
- Imposter is unable to kill without a kill card.
- Imposter may complete tasks except imposters are unable to do Medbay Scan.
- Imposter may sabotage the reactor forcing crewmates to go to reactor to disengage it. Simply approach a desk and say: Sabotage. Two crewmates must disengage reactor.
- Finish all the tasks or figure out who the imposter is
- Once discovering a dead body, crewmate may report by going to any desk area and asking staff to report a dead body
- Staff will announce over intercom: Dead body found in location please report to meeting room.
- All players have one emergency button. They may report to any desk and ask a staff member to request an emergency meeting.
- If you are killed you must sit down. if you wish you may lie down, but you have to indicate you are dead without any noise. You may not reveal to anyone who killed you.
- Once a body is reported Crewmate will report to airlock where they will remain for the rest of the game.
- Once Body is reported discussion and vote will happen. If taking too long, Captain will impose a time limit.
- Voted Crewmate will go into the airlock (Meeting Room C) to wait for the rest of the game
- Game continues until only imposter and one player is left.
- Captain and crew will reset games pieces and we will play another game
- Captain can include the mod of Sheriff. Sheriff gets one kill to try and kill the imposter.
For the impostor, there were multiple ways I found that people used to kill. I decided to use a method of a kill card. I printed and laminated a pile of dead among us bodies to use as kill cards. I made it so the impostor had to pick up the cards from the staff to mimic the effect of having a kill count down like in the game to give crewmates a chance. Once given a kill card, crewmates could lie down or sit down, but they had to raise the card above their head and they could not make any noise.
I also allowed the sabotage of reactor. I printed out two images of the hand scanners and laminated them, attaching them to the wall with tape. Imposters could go to the staff at desk and say sabotage to activate the reactor. Two crewmates were needed to place hands on scanners to deactivate. We did not want to allow lights just in case, but that is an added element you might want to consider.
So I spent 2 hours setting up and had 6 staff agree to help with this after hours event. I placed the tasks, labeled the rooms, and printed enough maps for all the teens. Some teens used the maps and realy liked them, others abandoned the map right away. We had tasks taped to a white board with a side that said need to complete and another side to put when finished. Teens would take their tasks from the board and once complete put it on the finished side.
Since in real life, imposters can’t really fake tasks, I had it so imposters can do all tasks except for Medbay. Each staff member manned a desk so they could use our intercom system to report dead bodies, emergency meetings, and sabotages. If you don’t have an intercom system, I recommend walkie talkies, or someone with a loud voice. I had one staff member stay in airlock to supervise the eventual dead bodies, and had another one walking around, and I stayed in the meeting room with tasks so I can manage meetings and answer questions.
Once teens arrived, I took them on a ship tour to explain where all locations were, which task were where, how to complete the tasks, and ask any questions.
We then assigned roles and played our first game.
Things I Would Change:
We had 11 teens signed up and 15 teens attended. That is better attendance than we have seen at any of our programs. I started out with two imposters, and crewmates won with a task win really fast. I had 44 tasks and they completed them fast. I upped the impostorS to 4 and it was much more fun, but crewmates still won by voting out impostors. I would have started with 3-4 if you have a big group to make it fun.
Also to add more fun, I added a mod called sheriff. I really love to watch streamers play games, and some talented gamers modified Among Us to add fun roles like Sheriff, Medic, Joker. I decided to add a Sheriff Role. The Sheriff Role got one shot and would try to kill an impostor, but if selected a crewmate to kill they also die. I ended adding 2 sheriffs and it was really fun. Next time I would add more mods like the medic who can bring people back to life, joker tries to get voted out and they win. You could probably come up with some and add some more roles. This is helpful as we ended up only playing 4 games and some teens were disappointed to be crewmate everytime. So adding new roles will only enhance playing.
Other than that it worked out really well and I would recommend it. It was a lot of work though. I was running around for two weeks trying to get everything ready, but luckily I got to rope a few coworkers into helping me finish stuff.
If you have any questions about Among Us in Real Life feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Among Us seems to be having a bit of a resurgence right now, so it’s definitely a good time to give this a try.
Cindy Shutts, MLIS
Cindy is passionate about teen services. She loves dogs, pro-wrestling, Fairy tales, mythology, and of course reading. Her favorite books are The Hate U Give, Catching FIre, The Royals, and everything by Cindy Pon. She loves spending times with her dog Harry Winston and her niece and nephew. Cindy Shutts is the Teen Services Librarian at the White Oak Library District in IL and she’ll be joining us to talk about teen programming. You can follow her on Twitter at @cindysku.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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