Last week, I wrote a reflection on the popular social deduction game Among Us. It’s a charming game, I had a lot of fun while playing, and I probably won’t play again.
In Among Us, players are assigned to be either interstellar scientists, attempting to complete a variety of mundane chores in order to return home, or evil aliens who sabotage the ship and slay the crew.
While the scientists complete their chores, they have to snoop for suspicious evidence, hoping to discover which of their crewmates are secretly aliens in disguise. At plurality-vote meetings, the crew can choose to fling people out the airlocks – if that person was an alien, perhaps the sabotage will cease! If that person was actually a hapless human scientist who couldn’t convince you of their innocence, well, your team is that much closer to doom.
Soon the aliens will vote you off your own ship.
I was brushing my teeth, staring at the black constellations of mold that have infiltrated our bathtub’s caulking. I thought, I should fix this.
It wouldn’t take so long. Scrape away the old caulking. Bleach everything. Run a dehumidifier to dry the room. Lay fresh caulk. Remind everyone not to use the bathtub that day.
An easy chore.
The chores in Among Us are all quite easy, too. The most difficult is just five rounds of the pattern-matching game Simon. Or clicking twenty asteroids as they hurtle across the screen. Most of the chores involve pressing a button and waiting.
But the chores become tense when aliens are constantly sabotaging your spacecraft. Or you might finish half a task when someone yells that they’ve found a dead body and interrupts your work with another meeting.
As I was looking at the moldy caulk, I heard that sound. The gut-wrenching alert noise, coming from our dining table.
Toothbrush still in mouth, I went to the table. Our eldest had poured a large quantity of almond milk directly on the tablecloth. Her cup was mostly empty. She was watching the milk drip from the edge of the table.
“Gmmph um dff cluff!” I said.
My kid just stared at me.
I sighed. You’re not supposed to swallow toothpaste.
I swallowed the toothpaste and said, “Get a dishcloth!”
“Ohhh,” she said, and went to the kitchen to find one. Nearly a minute passed while the milk drip, drip, dripped onto the floor. Eventually I went to get a dishcloth. My kid was sitting on the floor with several dishcloths in her lap, trying to pick her favorite.
Parenting small children is rather like Among Us. There’s an endless parade of tiny chores, each made more difficult by the fact that saboteurs are in your midst.
Except that it’s quite easy to identify the saboteurs. And I love them too much to vote them out the airlock.