Ahoy tries figuring this Polybius thing out

I love Ahoy’s videos. Professionally done and with rather good striking art all done by a single person.

[Brian Dunning] believes that such a myth must have been established by 1984, as it was referenced in the plot of the film The Last Starfighter, in which a teenager is recruited by a man in black who monitors him playing a covertly-developed arcade game.

The problem with that idea is that I believe it was already an overused trope by 1984. I recall the editor of Analog, before 1984, listing the commonly overused plots in the submission pile.
Computer Plot A was “It was all just a game”.
Computer Plot B was “And it wasn’t a game at all.”

Ender’s Game was a bit of a Computer Plot B.


Clever, but he has references to Google and BabelFish in 1981. And then he goes on about history.

I recall that screen shot turning up years ago. The problem with it is that it’s too big. Back in the day, raster arcade games used TV picture tubes, usually mounted sideways, and the resolution was ~240*256. No one in 1981 was using interlace or high-res monitors.

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Not to mention, if the arcade game worked as intended it would have been deployed much more widely.

Then again, stranger government programs are confirmed to exist (see: goat staring).

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In defense of the urban legend not impossible for it to have been a proof of concept before wider deployment. easier to have a one-off that needs to be pulled if it’s only ever put in singular locations rather than having a nation wide deployment that then requires staff to monitor.

But yea I don’t believe it either. A thing generated by coinop to try getting foot traffic.

Right. The whole “mind control” angle was largely a bygone fad by the 80’s. FOIA shows that it was mostly during the 60’s that it was investigated. From the descriptions of the effects it might be plausible that they wanted to test weaponizing games against epileptics or something. Harmful tests on unwitting civilians is precedented.

But this presumes the evidence was good to start with (it isn’t as we know).

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I recall tests using the mentally handicapped, disabled, and against minority races being a thing in the fifties and sixties.


Yup. The 60’s saw uninformed Army guys dosed with high doses of LSD as well. (Still bad, but not civvies)

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Once Project MKUltra officially got underway in April 1953, experiments included administering LSD to mental patients, prisoners, drug addicts and prostitutes—“people who could not fight back,” as one agency officer put it.[44] In one case LSD was administered to a mental patient in Kentucky for 174 days.[44] LSD was also administered to CIA employees, military personnel, doctors, other government agents, and members of the general public in order to study their reactions. LSD and other drugs were usually administered without the subject’s knowledge or informed consent, a violation of the Nuremberg Code that the U.S. had agreed to follow after World War II. The aim of this was to find drugs which would irresistibly bring out deep confessions or wipe a subject’s mind clean and program him or her as “a robot agent.”[45


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