Polybius, the oldest urban legend in the game, is mainly the fault of Atari

Sharp-eyed urban legend fans may have found an old friend in Marvel’s game Rocky: A sinister black arcade cabinet marked Polybius.Or you may already be The Simpsons Or in the “less than” music video of the nine-inch nail.

These are references to one of the most enduring video game urban legends, which predates “Ben Drowns” and “Lavender Town”. As the story goes, Polybius is a cursed arcade machine made by the government to test mind control technology on children. Anyone who has played it will become addicted. If they play for too long, they will suffer from amnesia, nausea, hallucinations, seizures, and even death.

As far as urban legend is concerned, Polybius is widely circulated, but not widely believed—there is no evidence that it ever existed. But it is based on some real, fascinating history-most of which is related to Atari’s sometimes dubious business strategy.

Watch the video to learn more about Atari’s involvement in the creation of the Polybius myth.