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Polybius: Myth or Government Mind Control Arcade Game

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posted on Aug, 17 2003 @ 06:11 PM
Theres an old Arcade Game called Polybius. I was wondering if anybody knows any info about it. Story has it was that it only showed up in a few arcades for a year. The people that played it had memory loss which involved their names or where they lived, and also they had reaccuring Night Terrors so bad they swore never to play another game again. Nobody knows where it is anymore, one arcade owner said he had it, and often some guy in a black suit would come in to collect game data, but never took the money. There was supposedly a rom, but the only site that had it was shut down quickly after the rom was put up. anybody have any info or personal experiences with this game?

posted on Aug, 19 2003 @ 03:55 AM

[Edited on 19-8-2003 by ADVISOR]

posted on Aug, 19 2003 @ 04:40 AM
Game Summary

We need information.

Game Details

This game had a very limited release, one or two backwater arcades in a suburb of Portland. The history of this game is cloudy, there were all kinds of strange stories about how kids who played it got amnesia afterwards, couldn't remember their name or where they lived, etc.
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.

The game was weird looking, kind of abstract, fast action with some puzzle elements, the kids who played it stopped playing games entirely, one of them became a big anti videogame crusader or something. We've contacted one person who met him, and he claims the machines disappeard after a month or so and no one ever heard about them again.

Until the ROM showed up.

Here's what we've found so far:

Found english strings "insert coin" and "press 1 player start" and "only" - looks like a 1 or 2 player game.
Text in the game says "(C) 1981 Sinnesl�schen" Maybe a German company?

If anyone has heard any additional information about this game, we'd appreciate hearing about it. Member Ratings / Comments
by PolyBiusResearch . Comment: "Greetings people, I am part of a private group that are investigating in "PolyBius" And after reading your comments yes I have the rom but it only generates the title screen and makes this strange "swooEER" noise. I cannot release it. Another member in my group found it on the internet. Sorry but i would be kicked out. A couple new facts about polybius: People who played it have an urge toplay it again, even though they cant remember playing it. It changes your mood, people who played it reportadly were sad and after they couldnt be sad anymore...." (2003-08-17 20:23:25Z)

by mranime01 . Comment: "i have seen a coin op machine of it but i didnt play it it looked stupid but when i read the article in game pro i rushed to ebay to see if it was still there but then it was gone so it does exist but i thought it was a real thing from the begining i mean the company name says it all....right?" (2003-08-17 11:06:24Z)

by waffleking . Comment: "anybody out there who has this rom send it to me at [email protected]. if it exists, i have nothing to fear. i have a strong mind. I used to be a big conspiracy-theory freak so why the hell not?!" (2003-08-17 04:07:34Z)

by polybiusinfofinder . Comment: "10:30 am 8/11/03 i am someone who has a lot of free tome. thus, i have decided to spend as much of it as possible trying to find info on the legendary polybius arcade game. i noticed some one beat me to the name of the publisher meaning senseless, and u found out the men who came to collect data. as well as the nightmeres.very clever. The only picture i have found with my research is the title screen. also, the companies name font is the same williams used on several of its games, making cut and paste easy for an aspiring prankster, and where is a copy of this game? who owns even one of these? this is something i will enjoy looking for data. and i will keep u all posted on this legenday artifact that we might no as the polybius. 11:10 8/11/03 more news. not sure if this helps, or has anything to do with this, but look in the second article by Rufus Dawes. it seems that ther is a man named polybius that has to do with football in the 80s or something. didnt read the full article, but u can! go to if u want to read the article by urself" (2003-08-15 08:03:46Z)

by ultimate12 . Comment: "has anyone ever found a rom for this game and if so what system is it for?" (2003-08-14 13:08:07Z)

by Big_In_PDX . Comment: "Would like to know what Suburb this game was alledgedly in. I do live in Portland, Oregon and I would go and investigate this." (2003-08-13 20:28:33Z)

by kakabobo . Comment: "boooo! what is my name?!?! LOL RULZ" (2003-08-10 12:34:16Z)

by immortalcold . Comment: "Polybius was a Greek historian who dabbled in cryptography. I have searched long and hard to find information on this game but everywhere I go the info is the same. A ROM reportedly exists but cannot be located." (2003-08-09 13:24:22Z)

by Gamerman . Comment: "Come on, this thing is nothing more than an urban legend. There is no Polybius, or any ROM of it. This is just a fancy story that entertains conspiracy theorists. The screen shot is just a fake some dude must have made with Photoshop. A video game that makes people hate video games is a rediculous idea. The day they find a Polybius game will be the day they find the PS2s that Saddam Hussein networked together to launch missles." (2003-08-09 04:52:23Z)

by armored_shadow . Comment: "Polybius was an ancient philosopher in ROman times, captured in Achaea by Rome." (2003-08-08 07:58:56Z)

by howardwen . Comment: "I call troll. I'm a videogame journalist and am investigating this. I am concluding this is a fabricated urban legend, perhaps to promote an independently produced movie (like what was done for Blair Witch). ONLY this site and list this game. If anybody can prove/disprove Polybius, then feel free to contact me directly: Howard " (2003-08-04 13:54:48Z)

by Emrys3177 . Comment: "I have been reading a lot about this game recently, and am actually crazy enough to want to find it. Various sites and magazine companies have been reporting that a ROM of this devastating game seems to exist. If it truly is out there does anyone happen to know where it can be located or downloaded from? I want to be one of the few insane people to try it since Portland '81." (2003-08-03 15:27:20Z)

by SilentWes324 . Comment: "Sinnesl�schen means senses deleting in german and polybius was a greek philosopher. If you are looking at this site you probably read the artice in gamepro so maybe since more people know about it the truth can be discovered. If anyone has any information on where I can find the rom or any other information that might help please contact me at [email protected]" (2003-08-01 22:58:08Z)

by Mappy . Comment: "This game should be emulated on MAME like yesterday. That will put a stop to all this BS. Or mabye it was already emulated, but it wiped out any memory we might had had of it. And what about the company?. Who are they. What other games did they release. Somebody has to know. " (2003-08-01 15:03:50Z)

by Sh0wtime . Comment: "hard to believe this story is true when there is a picture, but nobody is able to get the ROM of where the screenshot was taken. anyhoo... my email is [email protected]. if you have the ROM and would like guinea pigs for your evil experiments with this game, I sacrifice my sanity for the sake of weird science." (2003-07-29 06:04:10Z)

by Lady_Eboshi . Comment: "The name "Sinneschlossen" is German for "senses-deleting" or "senseless" and I think Polybius was the name of a many-eyed monster in Greek mythology. Has anyone considered emulating it for MAME?" (2003-03-02 21:40:45Z)

comment on this game :

Display: ?Unknown?
Orientation: ?Unknown?
Resolution: ?Unknown? x ?Unknown?
Colors: ?Unknown?
Color Info: ?Unknown?
genre: Abstract

attributes: Puzzle

controls: [no data]

Source :

[Edited on 19-8-2003 by Nans DESMICHELS]

[Edited on 19-8-2003 by Nans DESMICHELS]

posted on May, 24 2007 @ 09:44 PM
Felt like reviving my old topic because I thought this was a truly interesting conspiracy. Snopes claims it was just some hoax, but theres no information on how they determined that. Either way, its still an interesting thing.

It was made by a company in 1981 called Sinneslöschen.

Psyops were rampant in the 80s, so possibly theyre connected?

posted on May, 26 2007 @ 03:53 AM
Wow! Now that's interesting. With my background in both of these realms, I'm absolutely stunned I've never heard anything about it whatsoever.

We gotta find that ROM.


posted on May, 26 2007 @ 03:56 AM

Originally posted by ADVISOR

[Edited on 19-8-2003 by ADVISOR]

That looks like an emulator screenshot if I've ever seen one. How'd they get it is the question.

posted on May, 26 2007 @ 04:29 AM

Originally posted by IgnoranceIsntBlisss

Originally posted by ADVISOR

[Edited on 19-8-2003 by ADVISOR]

That looks like an emulator screenshot if I've ever seen one. How'd they get it is the question.

Probably from here:

Is this the real game?! Download to find out!!

posted on May, 27 2007 @ 03:26 AM
Interesting spooky urban legend indeed. I like it!

For the sake of curiosity, I might try polybius.exe one day on a junk computer disconnected from the internets, because I'm too afraid of viruses to run an obscure exec file on my current computer. Anyway, I've read that this file was forged and not an actual emulation the game.

In addition, I did a quick look up in the hope of finding contact info for Polybius developers who may potentially have kept an original copy of the ROM, or at best some related documentations about the game.

Well, guess what ladies and gents, no incorporated company seem to exist by the name of "Sinnesloschen" or "Sinneschlossen" in the United States Corporations database:

None in the German Handelsregister:

Neither in Czech Republic, where the alleged programmers (hoaxers?) are from:

As my control test, I randomly queried the "Activision" company name, simply for the purpose verifying how a positive result should look like. ion&btnSuche=Suchen
Can't link directly, click on Unternehmens Trager (UT) for details

Well, I had fun googling but the Polybius story sound fake to me.

[edit on 27-5-2007 by ufia]

posted on May, 29 2007 @ 12:39 PM

Originally posted by ufia
Well, I had fun googling but the Polybius story sound fake to me.

[edit on 27-5-2007 by ufia]

I also think its a hoax. no real information whatsoever on the software.

and btw i ran the exe file and its not a virus. i am using the most updated Kaspersky anti-virus and no viruses or problems are found after a few days. its just a hoax file.

Trimmed quote

[edit on 2/10/07 by masqua]

posted on Oct, 2 2007 @ 10:30 AM
i'm new to the Polybius story, so i hope this isn't old news but the font from the famous screenshot is called Bius Titel. it doesn't have the outline glow thing that connects the letters, but it is definitely the same font. hope this helps.

posted on Oct, 2 2007 @ 03:10 PM
ok - i have several serious issues with this story :

Originally posted by WolfofWar
The people that played it had memory loss which involved their names or where they lived, and also they had reaccuring Night Terrors so bad they swore never to play another game again.

first - if they were amnesiac , how did they determine that the game was the cause ?

if a game was blamed - it would get major write ups in clinical psycology journals - think about this

second - can anyone cite contemoray case studies , news reportage blaming the " polybius game " for any such phenonemon

infact any news reportage from the time , anything ????

Nobody knows where it is anymore, one arcade owner said he had it,

any photographs of it ? any records ? anything - by the power of google - i can find pictures of arcades across the globe - and close ups of the iconic machines i recall from my mispent youth , where are the pictures with a " polybius machine " in view ?

due to licencing revenue requirements and accounts / profitability issies - arcades meticulously dpcument the play patterns in thier arcade

they need to know exactly how much revenue each machine generates - its no good having one gold mine and 9 lame ducks

an arcade owner does not want an unplayed game taking up floor space - so they keep meticulous records - can anyone supply the weeks logs from an arcade that had one ?

and often some guy in a black suit would come in to collect game data, but never took the money.

now this i know is hyperbole - arcade owners empty the cash boxes - and bank the money - they pay the machine owners by cheque / bank transfer

only gambling machines in pubs and other venues with just one machine are serviced by outside operators

a very silly urban ledgend IMHO - it sounds freaky , but if you disect each claim - its quickly emerges that it has little merit , and less logic

posted on Jan, 30 2008 @ 12:30 PM
Apparently I am very new to this urban legend having read about it only yesterday on a yahoo news article: After spending many work hours searching all the Polybius sites and posts, I have many many issues.

So here's my thoughts. First off, the original ROM will NEVER surface. I know you're not supposed to say never, but I am saying it. It will never ever EVER surface! The way I see it there is two possibilities:

First that it's just a hoax. Now I love a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy and this one is particularly juicy, but probably a hoax. I won't get into why I believe that just yet, but let's just leave it at if it is a hoax, naturally we would never see a ROM.

Second, lets assume that it really happened. Two stand up machines placed in two arcades in some remote Portland suburb as part of a secret government project. Not too far fetched especially during the cold war era. Video gaming was a relatively new technology, so of course the first thing our gov't would think is how to use it as a weapon. I'd like to think they could be more subtle than this though. The games were out for a couple months then disappeared, probably destroyed. Now of course the gov't is too lame to make the game themselves, so they contracted some software engineers and made them sign several dozen privacy agreements and work in an underground facility a mile below the nevada desert. They would have destroyed any original software used to create the stand-ups at the same time they destroyed the stand-ups themselves. The software engineers would not have been given any copies because it was never their project in the first place.

In either scenario, no ROM would exist to this day. Even if it did, it would most likely not produce the same effect as the original stand ups.

My next thought is, as cool as this whole thing sounds, no freaking way it happened. If there is one thing our gov't is good at, it's doing experiments on our citizens and keeping it secret (ha!). Eventually everything gets declassified, someone talks, someone does a history channel story. So why nothing on this?

Let's break this down. First off, what would the gov't have to gain from this? Some kind of psychological warfare through video games? Who would be the target? As far as I know, we weren't exporting arcade games to the soviet union and that is what was tying up all our tax dollars at the time. Why go through the risk and waste the money?

Next, if they were going to do an experiment of this nature, why do it out in the open? Why not do what they always do and conduct it in some military facility in some desolate location where they can control everything?

Third, men in black suits retrieving information? Really? Even big brother can be a little more creative than that. And what sort of information could they possibly be getting? High scores? Video footage from a hidden camera? Audio tapes? It seems to me that the only useful information from such an experiment would have to come from in depth testing and interviewing of the subjects.

Then let's look at the supposed symptoms: amnesia, blackouts, memory loss, nausea, epilepsy, migranes, headaches, terrifying nightmares. Also rumored to change the mood of a player. Few have said that after you play the game you then have the inability to become sad. How would the gov't possibly know that the players experienced all these from information they got from a stand up machine. Remember this is 1981 folks. Even video cameras were as big as a printer. And there wasn't digital recording so the tapes would have to be changed hourly. They only way they could have known this is if they conducted interviews in private. That means hiring psychiatrists. And again I have to ask, if you did the interviews in private, WHY NOT JUST DO THE WHOLE THING SECRETLY?!?.

Long story short, its all just a cool urban legend.

But then what do i know?

posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 01:41 AM
I looked on youtube and found a supposed recreation of the game. probably fake but they'll always be the maybe question in the back of our minds unless someone can provide solid proof that it's fake.

heres the link to the video:

[edit on 4/29/2008 by scorpionxx]

[edit on 4/29/2008 by scorpionxx]

posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 02:10 AM
Theres now way that youtube was a video of a 1980 game emu. No way. Simply put, the old stand up arcade jobbies couldnt produce anywhere near that level of resoultion.

posted on Apr, 29 2008 @ 02:29 AM
Wow interesting story...

I'll have a scout about myself and see if anybody knows anything.

posted on Apr, 30 2008 @ 02:04 AM
Ah yes, Polybius. I've been interested in this for a long time. Here are some photos of the actual machine:


and also:

However much credence these images land the story is up for you guys to determine. I also ran the downloadable "polybius.exe" and all it was was a poorly-done Asteroids ripoff. The one thing always credited to this game was that it used vector graphics (different from most arcade games), and vector games from back then required a wierd dual-screen type setup to properly project them, as seen in the photos. Why in the hell someone would fabricate these is beyond me. There's also a youtube video that makes little to no sense to me. Observe below:

In it, you see a few guys basically breaking into a house which contains a Polybius machine. Once he turns it on, some wierd robot thing starts going off elsewhere in the room and his friend puts on a dumb Halloween mask. The thing that throws me about the vid, though, is that it's obviously a real arcade machine which displays the reputed title screen, exactly as you would see it if it were a real game. But the ridiculous hoax ending just plain confuses me.

posted on Apr, 30 2008 @ 02:20 AM
Breaking news - it has all been solved. Turns out it's niether government mind control experiment nor completely fabricated lie - just something minor that happened and got distorted over the years. Digging a little deeper, I found this:

I think it's about time I laid this to rest, however entertaining the speculation. My name is Steven Roach who is primarily based in the Czech Republic. Sinneschlossen was a company set up by myself and several other mainly amateur programmers in 1978 that worked on component parts for Printed Circuit Boards that saw programming as a limited but very profitable sideline. I think the fact that it wasn't the focal point of our business took the pressure off of us and hence we created some quality work which quickly gained a reputation within the industry. We were approached around 1980 by a Southern American company that shall remain nameless for legal purposes to develop an idea they had for producing an Arcade Game with a puzzle element that centred around a new approach to Video Game Graphics. They were very keen indeed to gain an upper hand in what was already a very competitive market so we were offered a staggering commission-based renumeration package to develop something special that utilised the technology. We developed the game in little more than two portacabins that were knocked together where we spent many stressful mornings, evenings & nights which was a great pity because it compromised our relaxed and innocently amateurish approach to our business in spite of the financial possibilities. Marek Vachousek was the programmer who came up with the name Polybius - he had studied Greek Mythology at Masaryk University and came up with the name because it sounded quite bold and mysterious, which is what we wanted quite simply. The inspiried graphics combined with the puzzle elements and scintilating gameplay was something to behold - we playtested it for hours and hours and it certainly was an addictive game that was well loved professionally and recreationally by all that played it. The company couldn't have been happier and we all thought we were on the verge of something very special indeed. We then received a phonecall stating that there were concerns within the company that the basic graphics which featured prominently in so many other games of the time were fine for the average gamer to spend hours at a time without any noticable physical or mental detriments but the intense and engrossing gameplay of this new step was very much an unknown quantity so the game was put back several months due to divided opinion within their board of directors, much to our consternation for breaking our backs to finish it on time. We received heartening collated playtesting figures and were then told that the game would receive a temporary limited release which bouyed us significantly but shortly after, we received terrible news - a thirteen year old boy from the Lloyd District of Portland, Oregon had suffered an Epileptic Fit while playing the game, only six days after the machines had literally been installed. One of the senior employees that I knew very well contacted me to tell me that it caused immense ripples of panic throughout the company who were of the opinion that they had "created a monster" as such. It may sound laughable now but please bear in mind that this was 25 years ago when the Video Game Industry was in it's infancy. Every effort was made to withdraw the game from the public domain as quickly as possible but the scaremongering was already out in force and a lot of the children were queueing up or daring their friends to play this supposedly nightmarish game. Company Directors descended on the town to assess the situation which may account for these reports of "Strange Men in Black Suits hanging around" and the machines were often taken in daylight, causing minor but noticable incidents. As far as I was made aware, only seven machines were distributed around the area and no other health-related incidents were reported. I heard "off the record" that the company made a one-off settlement to the boy's family and no more was heard, apart from all the internet-based speculation and resulting paranoia. We disbanded Sinnesscholssen shortly afterwards because we didn't want to restrict ourselves to the stringent deadlines of other companies and favoured distancing ourselves from the game in case of any lingering recriminations which could have done a great deal of damage to our personal and professional reputations which was our livelihood and with some of us having very young families, this was extremely important to us. As far as I'm aware, no ROM's or otherwise exist unless they remain in the bowels of the company that distributed it. We only received a basic payment in view of the fact that the game was withdrawn without nationwide or international distribution so we grew to loathe it and was often a cursed word whenever we used to meet up and still is today, which is a shame. I still believe we created something that should have changed the face of gaming and would have set us apart from the rest of the industry but Arcade Games were often compared to drugs at the time because of their addictiveness and we created something that small-minded bureaucrats perceived to be the Heroin of the Video Game World that's only crime was to be many years ahead of it's time. I'm sure people will doubt the sincerity of this so feel free to drop me a line at steven[email protected] as I'm happy to answer any questions. Steven.

So there ya go. Hopefully this is credible enough to clear things up.

posted on Apr, 30 2008 @ 06:14 AM
That's it.

They NEED to make a version of this availible to download, so we can diessect it, try it on pets, and so on.

EDIT: And just so you know, I don't actually intent to doing that. But it would be cool having it for download because I am obviously VERY skeptical that it can mind control.

If it can, it really shows us something about our entertainment today.

[edit on 30/4/2008 by C0bzz]

posted on May, 25 2008 @ 01:38 PM
link an intersting site about polybius with a remake of the game (according to the myth) and he even build his own machine

posted on May, 30 2008 @ 11:16 PM
I also have a lot of free time and also love urban legends. In the time that I have spent looking into 'Polybius' here is a little of what I noticed.
One of the biggest hitters for me is that most articles written about 'Polybius' are nearly word for word copies. This kinda points out that sources of information are very limited and the same stories keep getting recycled. That doesn't prove much, I am aware, maybe it only goes to show how little of a following this game has.
Second has been the talk of a rom that was online before the site was shut down. I've seen videos of this rom being played and other sites that have a download available. All have claimed it to be a home-made version based only on what they've heard. One site even had graphichs you could download that would allow you to put them on an old stlye arcade cabinet to make a novelty Polybius of your own.
Not to mention, think about how hard it would be to obtain an original copy of the game to make a rom from it. If the legends are true, then we're talking about a game found in a very limited amount of arcades, that all were taken away less than a year later. All that taking place almost 30 years ago.
The last nail in the coffin for me atleast is that if it was a government project, then they would have obviosly kept a very close eye on these cabinets and not let them fall into private ownership. After all, if agents were collecting some secret data on a regular basis, it'd be hard not to notice one missing. Especially if they were all rounded up less than a year later. Rounded up and destroyed, no doubt. If they say it does not exist then to cover their ass it can not exist. So if it can not exist then it must not exist and ultimatly, will not. People love the idea of the secret ware house where 'Polybius', ufo's, the sound stage for the moon landing, and the people who shot JFK are all locked up. It gives hope that the truth is out there. (very x-files-esque, I know) The truth is, the best way to contain and control evidence is to destroy it. If it's gone, then nobody can ever say it was ever there.
My overall opinion is that PB was nothing more than a small lie that got passed around and eventually came to what it is today. After all, every form of media has been accused of having some sort of brain washing and government project hidden within. Books, music, movies, tv, radio, all have had a tale of government conspiracies and manipulation.
To some it up "A lie told often enough becomes the truth" ~ Lenin
At the moment, I can not find the site with the roms and graphics, but I will try some more and repost.

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