Polybius: The Urban Legend of the Government’s Mind-Controlling Arcade Game

“Gamers who tried it couldn’t stop playing, and began acting oddly: they were nauseous, stressed, had horrific nightmares. Others had seizures or attempted suicide, many felt unable to control their own thoughts. It was only later that they recalled how Polybius was serviced more often than other games. Men in black suits opened the machine every week, recorded its data, and left, with no interest in its coins. Soon after it appeared, the mysterious arcade game vanished without warning—taken by the men in black suits, leaving no record of its existence.

That’s the story, at least. This legend is one of the big unsolved mysteries of the gaming world, though most concede that the game never existed…”

—Natalie Zarrelli, “The Urban Legend of the Governments Mind Controlling Arcade Game.” AtlasObscura.com. April 28, 2016.

Eclipse Phase

Eclipse Phase is a transhumanist, science fiction roleplaying game with anarchist tendencies. The second edition is currently in open play test (read: free)  on Drivethrurpg.com. In an interview, Rob Boyle, one of the creators of the game, describes how politics can drive story and serve up critiques of technology. I particularly liked this quote:

“[There is a] cyberpunk maxim that the street makes its own uses for things, meaning that even technology deployed for purposes of control is often subverted and repurposed…”

—Rob Boyle, “Interview: Eclipse Phase – The anarchist RPG.” freedomnews.org. October 29, 2017.

A Mortician’s Tale

“Why was it so striking, though? In its refreshing brevity, A Mortician’s Tale is eminently successful at what it sets out to accomplish. It’s wholly pleasant and always instructive, even in its mundane moments, which, in themselves, are educational. It pries open a less accessible life experience and gives players the opportunity to understand a real-world perspective that, likely, is quite unlike their own. It elicits dark feelings, but asks players to consider where those feelings came from and what makes them dark.”

—Cecilia D’Anastasio, “One of 2017’s Best Games is About Being a Mortician.” Kotaku.com. October 16, 2017.