Replicas of Polybius emerge every now and then. | Photo via Newsilver95
When it comes to Oregon’s most fascinating legends, the tale of Polybius probably ranks closer to Bigfoot in Forest Park (a well-executed April Fools’ prank) than the exploding whale (sounds fake, but actually happened).
However, that doesn’t make the reports of a government-funded, mind-controlling arcade game in a suburb of Portland any less interesting. Yep, you read that right. In November of 1981, when joystick jockeys were spending their hard-earned change to take on titles like “Donkey Kong” and “Frogger,” mysterious unmarked consoles allegedly popped up at Malibu Grand Prix in Beaverton.
The story goes that anyone who played Polybius would become addicted, experiencing a hypnotic state coupled with hallucinations, blackouts, and other mental afflictions. Apparently these machines were regularly visited by “men in black” who would open up the machines, collecting data while leaving the quarters untouched. Not long after the Polybius cabinets arrived, they were apparently removed without a trace.
For several decades, accounts of Polybius were spread by word-of-mouth, until a review was posted to coinop.org, a vintage gaming database, in 1998. An image of the start-up screen surfaced, revealing the supposed company behind it — Sinneslöschen, a loosely German-inspired word derived from Sinne (“senses”) and löschen (“to extinguish” or “to delete”). The game itself is named after an ancient Greek philosopher who popularized a system for coded messages.
Pause. This is where we tell you that there is no hard evidence that Polybius ever even existed. But like every myth, it’s plugged into real-life context. It’s proven that the CIA has actually conducted behavioral experiments on the unwitting public. Arcades were also hotbeds for illegal gambling, attracting the attention of FBI agents. Plus, staring at flashing lights while drinking copious amounts of soda would make anyone sick.
Still, Polybius just won’t die; its legacy lives on in pop culture, including an episode of “The Simpsons” and more recently, “Loki” on Disney+.
Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” | Monday, Nov. 20 | 7:30 p.m. | Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, Portland | $25+ | Shakespeare’s fairy- and magic-filled fantasy comes to life on stage with brass, wind, and strings.
Monday, Nov. 20
Fall Into Science: Decomposition | Monday, Nov. 20 | 10 a.m.-12 p.m. | Hoyt Arboretum, 4000 SW Fairview Blvd., Portland | Free | Keep the kids entertained during “no-school November” with this educational and fun outing in the forest.
Sea Otters of the Oregon Coast | Monday, Nov. 20 | 7-8:30 p.m. | Kennedy School Theater, 5736 NE 33rd Ave., Portland | $5-$6 | Learn the history of these fluffy floating fur balls and their cultural significance for Native American communities.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz | Wednesday, Nov. 22 | 7 p.m. | Moda Center, 1 N. Center Court St., Portland | $16+ | Making something out of nothing — if that’s jazz, then the hometown squad will surely get a win.
Thursday, Nov. 23
Tofurky Trot | Thursday, Nov. 23 | 7:30-11 a.m. | Oaks Park Dance Pavilion, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland | $0-$35 | Burn off some calories to make room for the deluge of green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and pecan pie later on.
This holiday season shop for unique gifts from our small business partners. | Photo by 6AM City
Our online shop (Six & Main), a site that celebrates small businesses locally and in our 25 sister markets, is dishing out major deals this holiday season. From coffee to artwork and apparel, there’s a gift for everyone.
30% off items included in our gift guides for her + him
Schools out ‘til at least Nov. 27, the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend, as the PPS strike negotiations continue. Although some agreements have been made, class sizes and cost-of-living adjustments are sticking points, and teachers have now lost their healthcare coverage for December. (KOIN)
Construction on Washington County’s Center for Addictions Triage and Treatment will begin next March, with an estimated completion in 2025. The two buildings, located in Beaverton and Hillsboro, will provide round-the-clock services like sobering, detox, and residential programs. (The Oregonian/Oregon Live)
Embrace winter’s unique opportunities for introspection and building community. Aurora Chorus hopes to convey that message to the audience at its “Inner Gardens” concert on Saturday, Dec. 16, at Portland First United Methodist Church. Since 1992, the group has “honored the strength and beauty of women’s lives” and elevated their voices.
Is your Thanksgiving going to be Portland Proud, Adjacent, or Curious? Portland Monthly’s quiz wants to help you get to the bottom of this question with eight different prompts, including what you’re wearing to dinner and how well you know your turkey’s life story. They also offered some conversation starters. (Portland Monthly)
Want to impress visiting family this holiday season? Archery Summit recently unveiled its renovated 1,800-sqft tasting room perched outside of Dundee; the panoramic views from the outside terrace pair wonderfully with the 2021 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir (ranked among the world’s Top 50 wines by Decanter in 2023).
For those about to rock, Veterans Memorial Coliseum salutes you — and invites you to check out the Rose Quarter Guitar Show on Sunday, Dec. 10. Musicians can browse vintage, used, and new instruments and accessories from brands like Fender, Gibson, and more. Tickets are $15 at the door.