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Polybius: The Scariest Game that Never Existed (?)

People say that overexposure to video games can be hazardous to your health. But has there ever been a game that was intentionally dangerous?

According to the legend, the US government, in 1981, produced some arcade cabinets which were shipped off to various arcade halls. Those cabinets contained the game Polybius, named after the ancient Greek historian.

Polybius was supposed to look like your typical space shooter game, but it came with a twist. It was said to be addictive and would cause effects, such as seizures and hallucinations…on purpose. All these happened under the watchful eyes of “men in black” who would frequent those arcade halls and monitor the behaviour of people playing the game.

Some versions of the story claim that the game was the product of a German company, and its objective was to test mind controlling software in the form of a game.

File:Polybius Arcade 1 cropped.jpg

A Polybius cabinet mockup

Scary enough, eh? Well, worry not. Despite all the rumours regarding the existence of Polybius, there are absolutely zero testimonies of anyone who has played or seen it. As this very nice documentary explains, it all started as an urban legend that went viral because various websites were reporting on it. After all, the first mentions of Polybius only came a long time after the game’s supposed release.

Today, if you look online, you can find multiple fan-made games that try to replicate the feeling that an actual Polybius cabinet would have produced. But none of them has hypnotic or any sorts of magical properties. Unless…

 

Header: By Minimalist – http://www.coinop.org/Game/103223/Polybius, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58688928

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