Polybius is a fictitious arcade game, the subject of an urban legend that emerged in early 2000. It has served as inspiration for several free and commercial games by the same name.
The legend describes the game as part of a government-run crowd sourced psychology experiment based in Portland, Oregon, during 1981. Gameplay supposedly produced intense psychoactive and addictive effects in the player. These few publicly staged arcade machines were said to have been visited periodically by men in black for the purpose of data-mining the machines and analyzing these effects. Eventually, all of these Polybius arcade machines allegedly disappeared from the arcade market.
Timeline of the Polybius legend
EuroGamer attributed the legend to stories about gamers falling ill in the early 1980s after playing games such as Asteroids and Berzerk non-stop for 24 hours or longer, while noting that conspiracies about video games were a prominent part of the 1984 movie The Last Starfighter (in which aliens use video games to recruit space pilots). However even EuroGamer notes there is a problem in the time delay from the early 1980s to the first documented mention of the legend.
The legend does have some (very small) basis in reality: there were cases of stomach discomfort (due to both anxiety and drinking too much Coke), migraine headache, epileptic seizures, police raids in arcades (due to illegal gambling), sale of stolen goods and drugs, and truancy. The United States military uses video games for training it's soldiers. There were also East German vídeo game arcades, known as Poly Play, based on pirated Russian CPUs, which were themselves pirated versions of Western games, which weren't wonders of engineering; due to these reasons, they were recalled after the Berlin Wall fell.
The Curse of Polybius
It was called the Game all Gamers feared by many people involved within the gaming industry. A person named Devin was playing Polybius and, after 5 days, became possessed by the arcade machine under the name Devilous.
Physical forms of Polybius
The first form of the arcade machine, standing for easy.
The second form of arcade machine, standing for medium.
The final form of the arcade machine, standing for hard.