Saturday, 8 September 2007

A game so good, it will kill you?

There is a story of an 1981 arcade game called Polybius. It was released to a small number of Portland (USA) arcades by a company called Sinneschlossen.

Although popular, it was withdrawn after a couple of months. Apparently this was due to the ill effects experienced by some of the players, ranging from motion sickness, disorientation and fits, through to night terrors, psychotic episodes and suicide.

The following quoted from "Above Top Secret":

"The bizarre rumors about this game are that it was supposedly developed by some kind of weird military tech offshoot group, used some kind of proprietary behavior modification algorithms developed for the CIA or something, kids who played it woke up at night screaming, having horrible nightmares.

According to an operator who ran an arcade with one of these games, guys in black coats would come to collect "records" from the machines. They're not interested in quarters or anything, they just collected information about how the game was played."


For alleged photos of the arcade cabinet, visit Polybius Theory. It also has plenty of background information on the legend.

So, do you want to play the game? Click here for a Windows remake.

WARNING: Contains strobe effects. May cause motion sickness. Mr Nobody accepts no responsibility for any ill effects caused by use of the game.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Update: Thanks to the Wayback Machine we can bring you what is probably the first mention of Polybius (6 February 2000), and the first Usenet post (27 February 2000). Anyone got an earlier link?

2 comments:

Carlos said...

"Proprietary behavior modification algorithms" ?? Do you even know what behavior modification is? I hate when people throw this term around. Nobody with any credibility in the field uses that term any more. You may as well replace that with "magic" because that's the extent of your understanding of it.

Mr Nobody said...

Actually that was a quote from "Above Top Secret". I've edited the post to make that a bit more obvious.