Phantom of the Arcade, Part 2

Aug 13, 03:50 AM

What made the Polybius arcade game strange, and so scary? Well, it’s not a real game. It’s fakelore, better known as urban legend...

What made the Polybius arcade game strange, and so scary? Well, it’s not a real game. It’s fakelore, better known as urban legend (from what I’ve read there are games by that name now, but they came out after the rumor-mill had been started.

What made it scary? The threat it posed to players Health and well-being. The men in black, the possibility they were tracking the high scores for their organizations nefarious reasons. That the games were removed within weeks of being dropped off.

Polybius, the fake-arcade game, has a starring role in dark coin-op arcade video game lore—and is who we’ve been looking for as the phantom of the arcade.

So, what exactly are we talking about? What’s a Polybius? Turns out as it relates to our story it’s a who and a what. Going chronologically, Polybius is the name of a conscientious Greek historian (who lived in Arcadia and was later kidnapped and taken to Rome, 841 miles away and across the Ionian sea (east of the Mediterranean sea). 

Polybius lived from 200 BC to 118 AD and wrote the Histories (originally 40 volumes about the rise of Rome) and the people of the Hellenistic period—he included their ideas and the events of the time period.

Polybius was known to question other historians and he was very careful with presenting things accurately. Quote from passage xii 4c; “…to question as many people as possible, to believe such witnesses as are trustworthy, and to prove him [the historian] a good judge of the reports that reach him”. He even wrote about his intent to share the truth and apologized if he ever missed the mark saying the error would have been an honest mistake.

So, somebody out there must have been thinking they’re a comedian. Polybius was born in “Arcadia” - haha…arcade, get it!?! And the twist is that he believed historians should not report on anything they are unable to verify through multiple people and eyewitnesses… but, they can’t verify the Polybius arcade video game - said resources aren’t available. Very clever. 

Research sources to be posted.