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Polybius
Polybius
November 3, 1981
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Video game researcher Patrick Kellogg posited that Cube Quest was likely the inspiration for Polybius, an urban legend in which US government operatives create a Tempest-esque shoot-em-up of the same name that has lasting psychoactive effects on those who play it. In Kellogg's analysis, he notes that Cube Quest features similar Tempest-style gameplay and sports vibrant, surreal backgrounds like the kind described in the urban legend. The backgrounds in Cube Quest were reproduced by running a LaserDisc player installed in the game's cabinet; because LaserDisc technology is much less reliable than solid state media, the cabinet required constant maintenance from technicians, which Kellogg cited as the likely inspiration for the government agents who periodically harvest data from Polybius in the urban legend.
Also Appears On: Cube Quest (Game)
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The earliest known mention of the mythical video game Polybius was an article on the otherwise legitimate arcade gaming fan site Coinop.org posted on August 3, 1998.

The article was edited on May 16, 2009, after the "game" had achieved viral popularity, to inform readers that the site hosts had received new information about the game and were flying to Kyiv, Ukraine to investigate the title, which they would update the page on when they found out. No news has been recorded on Polybius since, but the website would have new games added to its database up to 2021.

Kurt Koller, the webmaster for coinop.org, would later claim in 2021 that he planned to go to Kyiv in 2009 to see Chernobyl, but his friend from Ukraine refused because he was expecting a child, meaning that the "Polybius update" may have just been an in-joke related to this visit.
Contributed by Rocko & Heffer on October 24, 2023
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