Sunday, July 21, 2019


In the world of myth and legends, few mediums can claim to have as many myths as video games. Every game seems to have its share of myths or made up features. Most are created to trick new players into either wasting their time or to soft lock their game, but some are glitches that make the game act strange. What about a video game that is a myth in itself? There have been many games that seem like myths but, none are more famous, or infamous, depending on how you look at it. That game is Polybius. The myth of Polybius is perhaps more exciting and intriguing than any early 80's arcade game has any right to be. It has it all. Secret experimentation using citizens as test subjects, men in black working for the government to cover the whole thing up, subliminal messages, references to greek philosophy and history, etc.

In 1981, in arcades around the U.S.A, a spooky cabinet was installed overnight. The cabinet was described as being black with no art, except a marquee featuring a blue/green typographical logo that reads POLYBIUS. Players would report feeling nauseous, not being able to sleep, headaches and hallucinations. Supposedly, as quickly as it appeared, it vanished. It was reportedly taken by men dawning thick black sunglasses, black suites and ties, and never heard of again... UNTIL THE YEAR 2000, on the website “”, it was revealed that the whole thing was a government experiment performed by the military. No .ROM could be found, so what the game actually looks like remains a mystery. For the next few years, after the “” entry this idea of a game that could not be found was spread among early internet users. due to its lack of evidence most conclude it as just a legend, some probably truly believed that it was covered up by the government so well that not a trace could be found. People, wanted to uncover government secrets assumed it could have been apart of the MK ULTRA project, despite being at one point top secret it was well documented. there was no mention of using a video game to brain wash the public.    

the real story of Polybius however is not something that would be seen in theaters any time soon. imagine you are an arcade enthuses and want to help your fellow enthusiast by documenting every arcade game ever dropped on the market. Its 2000 and the internet is not very big and information dose not spread super fast, not as fast as today). you want the sight to be noted and used. back in the day you had few options tell people, in person, during conventions or expos (not very fast and unreliable and time consuming). Link your sight in a relevant forum (faster but most forums don't allow advertisements).  fabricate a nebulous but interesting story that would unfolded overtime. resulting in people talk about it. those who were interested would do some digging and end up  on your web-sight.  That is what  happened for the most part. Every article that you could find ether mentions the sight by name or fettered the sight in a "special thanks" section. the story really didn't unfold however in the way wanted, in that it did really unfold at all. the entry form 2000 stayed the same for years saying that more info was need. The most resent update to the page was from 2009, and it just add a little sentence about the writher going on a trip to investigate some evidence he found about the game so he won't be updating it any time soon. well he was right about not updating it any time soon. By 2009 Polybius was mostly debunked, so trying to wright an ongoing story about it wont look good for a sight that wants to be an accrete data bace about arcade machines.  The short of it the game is not real. It was made to attract traffic to the sight. 

this is the only screen shot of the game and perhaps the only physical evidence of its supposed existence. 


  1. Interesting post - more dramatic than many, and definitely an interesting urban legend! The "Angry Video Game Nerd" actually did a video on this urban legend ( as he points out, "on the internet, anybody can say anything without any basis in fact". Of course, the "review" only intentionally helps perpetuate the legend (and includes "not safe for work" language - fair warning!). In any event, like most urban legends, with little evidence to support the story, it can be accepted for its entertainment value, but there is clearly nothing more to it than that. Again, though, definitely interesting!

  2. I had never heard of this story before, and it seems really interesting. It feels like the kind of thing that people can latch onto, and run with creating different threads. If it falls into the "MK Ultra' area, than that makes it even easier to make fantastic claims about it, that would draw people in.