Publisher Atari (allegedly)
Platform(s) Arcade (allegedly)
Genre Tube shooter
Release Date 1981 (allegedly)
Episodes 1
Playlist Scary Episodes...FOR HALLOWEEN!
Theorist Game Guide

Polybius is an alleged game featured in Game Theory.

Game information

According to urban legend, Polybius was an arcade game published by Atari in 1981 at the CIA's request, which is said to have induced various negative psychological effects on players, including amnesia, stress, night terrors, insomnia, nightmares, and eventual suicide. Roughly a month after its supposed release, Polybius disappeared without a trace. With no physical evidence supporting its existence, many have wrote it off as an urban legend.

Polybius is said to have been distributed in Portland, Oregon in 1981. People who played it quickly got addicted to it, with long lines forming and people often fighting over who got to play next. The Polybius arcade cabinets were visited by men in black who collected data from the machines, supposedly testing results to the game's psychoactive effects. Many people who played the game suffered from various negative psychological effects, such as insomnia, nightmares, and suicide, and many stopped playing video games altogether.

The game is often linked to the CIA's Project MKUltra, in which they would conduct secret experiments on institutions such as prisons, hospitals, and universities for research on brainwashing, mind control, and "the ultimate truth serum". The project was apparently discontinued in 1973.


Game Theory

Game Theory subjects
Let's Make a Deal
The Price Is Right!
Polybius, MK Ultra, and the CIA's Brainwashing Arcade Game Next
The Legend of Zelda
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