Gaming Myths PT2 – Polybius

Polybius Load Screen

Those of you who have been around long enough to be going grey while filling in you application for the old age home, might remember 3 and a half years ago I started a series on gaming myths. For those that don’t here enjoy some Killswitch. Then life got busy and I never got back to it. Till now. Now what do I have in store for you this time ? While Killswitch was my favourite of the myths about gaming, today we look at probably the most well known. Polybius

The legend states Polybius was created by a mysterious company called Sinnesl√∂schen and was a puzzle/shoot-’em-up similar to Tempest. It was only released in a few suburbs of Portland, Oregon.

Supposedly very popular, with people forming long lines to play it. However, players reported strange things about the game, such as hearing a woman crying and seeing grotesque faces out of the corner of their eyes. Players would have nightmares, experienced nausea, headaches, blackouts or even develop amnesia. Some even committed suicide. Others stopped playing video games altogether. One became an anti-video game activist.

According to one owner of an arcade, men wearing black suits would often come to collect “records” from the game. They did not take any money, simply data on gameplay. The theory is it was some sort of government experiment using subliminal messages. The game remains in obscurity as around one month after its release, all of the cabinets suddenly disappeared. One cabinet reappeared in an arcade 1998, but quickly disappeared again. While some have tried to recreate the Polybius, no one has ever found the original ROM.

Polybius CabinetIn reality there is no evidence Polybius ever actually existed. No one is sure where Polybius came from by name, though it seems to have first popped up around 2000. Some early arcade cabinets did induce seizures, Vertigo, and motion sickness. This combined with the FBI raiding an arcade for running gambling rings, gave the story weight.

Over the years this myth became a full urban legend. Due to popularity, Polybius inspired games are now all oever the internet. Including this Semi-Official one. Featuring as an Easter Egg on many platforms. Including major shows like The Simpsons, Polybius isn’t going anywhere.

I’ll try not leave 4 years before the next part:P

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