I recently watched this video about the mythical arcade game Polybius. It's a well-crafted investigation that thoroughly debunks the myth, but there's a segment in which the investigator suspects a hidden message in an old listing for the game but can't find any. Apparently the original writer made a reference to the "specific wording" of the post when questioned. The investigator remarks on the high number of commas, and an uncorrected misspelling. (the word 'disappeard' in paragraph 3).

I think that this is fascinating, so I thought to share it with all of you. My question: Is there anything hidden here? My initial guess is a Polybius square, especially because of the commas that could be coordinates, but I'm not sure how one would be implemented.

Original Post: from http://www.coinop.org/Game/103223/Polybius

This game had a very limited release, one or two backwater arcades in a suburb of Portland. The history of this game is cloudy, there were all kinds of strange stories about how kids who played it got amnesia afterwards, couldn't remember their name or where they lived, etc. The bizarre rumors about this game are that it was supposedly developed by some kind of weird military tech offshoot group, used some kind of proprietary behavior modification algorithms developed for the CIA or something, kids who played it woke up at night screaming, having horrible nightmares.

According to an operator who ran an arcade with one of these games, guys in black coats would come to collect "records" from the machines. They're not interested in quarters or anything, they just collected information about how the game was played.

The game was weird looking, kind of abstract, fast action with some puzzle elements, the kids who played it stopped playing games entirely, one of them became a big anti videogame crusader or something. We've contacted one person who met him, and he claims the machines disappeard after a month or so and no one ever heard about them again.

Until the ROM showed up.

Here's what we've found so far:

Found english strings "insert coin" and "press 1 player start" and "only" - looks like a 1 or 2 player game. Text in the game says "(C) 1981 Sinneslöschen" Maybe a German company? If anyone has heard any additional information about this game, we'd appreciate hearing about it.

  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, the last comment from "Sinnesloeschen" points to a site. When I open it (web.archive.org/web/20091222084744/http://6152410.ath.cx:80) it on Wayback Machine and select "View frame source", an invisible text shows up: "Portions of program materials and resources Copyright (C) Alan Memorial Institute 1953-1973; Ewan Cameron 1967, University of Oregon Department of Psychology, 1979-1981; Sinneslöschen Group AG, 1980-1981; Concordia Research Institute 2004-2007, Universidad De Puerto Rico, 2005-2007." (there's more) $\endgroup$
    – Nautilus
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ Cont'd: " This study includes text resources and software developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This software contains code derived from the RSA Data Security Inc. MD5 Message-Digest Algorithm, including various modifications by Spyglass Inc., Carnegie Mellon University, and Bell Communications Research, Inc (Bellcore). Regular expression support is provided by the PCRE library package, which is open source software, written by Philip Hazel, and copyright by the University of Cambridge, England." $\endgroup$
    – Nautilus
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ Assuming that account wasn't just making stuff up, some of the dates are a lot later than the game's supposed release date (including the PCRE, which was written in 1997). $\endgroup$
    – Nautilus
    Commented May 7, 2018 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ I think that ath.cx dyndns site was made by the guy behind the hoax to keep it going. But I do think there is a cryptography puzzle on the coinop listing, possibly using the nihilist cipher which uses polybius cipher as it's base $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 23:05

1 Answer 1


This legend's wikipedia page had an interesting comment:

"Polybius is also the name of the Greek historian, Polybius, who was known for his assertion that historians should never report what they cannot verify through interviews with witnesses."

Thus, this was perhaps an

experiment by the author to try and see how far his theory could go without being verified.

A more definitive solution could be reached if

the IP address of the lister could be retrieved from coinop.org, perhaps tracing us back to the original source of the Polybius story.


TBH I'm trying to get the necromancer badge (hence the old question being answered). Also this question looked extremely interesting.

ALSO also, - and most relevant to the original question

There's only 11 commas in the coinop post. That isn't that many. I also agree that the wording is odd, but not odd enough to indicate a significant steganographic message hidden in the text.. Keyword is "significant".


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