We’ve all heard this one. Maybe from a friend of a friend who swears on his mother’s grave that it happened to his cousin’s buddy. The one about the arcade game that caused strange symptoms in its players, like epilepsy and driving folks to suicide. That men in black would come to collect the data and use it as part of a massive government plot that your friend’s friend’s cousin’s buddy is somehow privy to. No evidence exists, only its name: Polybius. Kotaku recently unpacked the myth.
“Bananas, right? Yet that’s the beauty of it, and the reason it grew into such a fanciful tale. While it’s easy to assume it’s bullshit, there’s been no way to prove it never existed. And so the tale has lived on, and even today, there are those who believe that, in some form or another, the game actually existed, and actually made people sick.
One such tale, and if there’s to be any truth to the matter must surely be the origin of the whole mess, is that the Polybius myth originated from location testing for arcade classic Tempest. The urban legend has Polybius as playing very similarly to Atari’s 1980 shooter, so it’s possible, however, remotely, that it was a faulty Tempest cabinet – one perhaps inducing photosensitive seizures – that’s the grain of truth at the heart of this grand, decades-old lie.”
But he swore on his mother’s grave!
– Filipe Salgado