… or at least cause memory loss, blackouts, nausea, epilepsy, migraines. Some even say those who played the game Polybius were never able to feel sadness again.
The game allegedly had a limited release in the arcades of a suburb of Portland, OR in the early 80s. The story goes that kids who played the game would wake up at night screaming. The CIA also apparently sent the notorious Men in Black to collect player data from the game consoles.
The Tempest-style game was an instant success becoming addictive to many kids who would stand in line for hours for a chance to play. Subliminal messages were supposed to be embedded in the game which is the cause of the amnesia, epileptic seizures and migraines.
Many believe that the story got started as a result of problems that arose from an early release version of Tempest itself which reportedly caused epileptic fits and motion sickness in some players. There have been people claiming to have a ROM of the game, but none have ever made it public for examination. This lack of hard evidence leads most to believe that the game never existed. By contrast, however, the lack of information used to prove it was a hoax bySnopes leads many to believe that it wasn’t.
Interestingly enough, the real Polybius was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period whose ‘Polybius square‘ was the precursor to modern day cryptography. Also the company which supposedly created Polybius used a sub-contractor called Sinneslöschen which means ‘sense-deletion’ in German. Both of these facts could easily be interpreted as clues pointing to the reality of such a game.