Video games have a lot of spooky urban legends associated with them. Some are true, some are not. This is the month of Halloween, so there’s no better time to look at these bone-chilling stories. The ones for Pokemon alone filled up an entire other list. Do you have any legends that didn’t make the list? Say so in the comments!
The Legend of Polybius
In 1981, game a called Polybius supposedly showed up in only a few arcades around Portland, Oregon. It just appeared mysteriously and no one knew where it came from. What kind of game it actually was is unclear. It was either a Pac-Man-like 3D puzzle coupled with logic puzzles or a game where you had to get dodge objects while flying through a tunnel and also get through a spinning maze, all while dealing with flashing lights. The game was produced by Sinneslöschen which is butchered German for “loss of senses”.
And the game did indeed mess with people’s senses. Reported symptoms that resulted from the game include memory loss, nausea, night terrors and stress. People who played the game suddenly came to hate video games or even turned into anti-gaming activists. More severe symptoms are rumored too, like players committing suicide or being unable to feel sadness.
The game was supposedly very addictive. There were always long lines of people waiting to play it and fights would even break out over who got to play. Men in black were seen collecting data from the machine, meaning the whole thing was some government experiment. One month later, the games just vanished from all arcades.
Of course, there’s no evidence the game even existed. Or is that just what the government WANTS you to think?
Then again, the name of the game sort of makes the nature of this legend clear. Polybius was a Greek historian who said that historians should never report things they cannot verify through witnesses. And you probably shouldn’t believe myths that can’t be verified either.Especiallyif you don’t want to be caught in a web of horrible government experimentation yourself.
The Legend of Herobrine the 'Minecraft' Ghost
People playing Minecraft have reported seeing a horrifying eyeless doppelganger of the player character wandering around the game. The character is said to be the game developer Notch’s dead brother. One player claims after they saw the character and tried to talk about it on a forum, they received a message from a user called Herobrine that said “Stop”. The player connected 'Herobrine' to Notch’s brother and asked Notch about it. Notch confirmed his brother was Herobrine and also that he was dead.
Supposedly, one player saw the apparition in the middle of a lava field while playing and his game crashed. He was redirected to an article on Herobrine, which read:
"It has been reported that some victims of torture, during the act, would retreat into a fantasy world from which they could not WAKE UP. In this catatonic state, the victim lived in a world just like their normal one, except they weren't being tortured. The only way that they realized they needed to WAKE UP was a note they found in their fantasy world. It would tell them about their condition, and tell them to WAKE UP. Even then, it would often take months until they were ready to discard their fantasy world and PLEASE WAKE UP.”
In reality, Herobrine is a prank made up by some livestreamers who used a retextured painting to make the being. One livestreamer was even overheard telling his wife he was “trolling”. Notch does not actually have a brother.
The Legend of the Haunted 'Majora's Mask'
The lengthy story of the haunted Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask cartridge is one of the most popular (and elaborate) creepypastas and some credit it with starting the trend of video game urban legends. The story is detailed, but as a bare bones version of the story: A young college student who went by the username Jadusable bought a copy of Majora’s Mask from an old man at a yard sale. The man said “goodbye, Ben” when Jadusable left, though that wasn’t his name. When he started up the game, he saw that the save file was labeled “Ben”.
When Jadusable played the game, strange things started to happen. Most notably, he found himself being stalked by the Elegy of Emptiness statue. Link began to burst into flames and after the third time, even when the player restarted the game, Link’s dead body remained and there was an ominous message: “you’ve met a terrible fate, haven’t you?” The save file changed to “Your Turn” then back to “Ben” again.
When Jadusable went to visit the old man again, but he was gone, supposedly moving, according to a neighbor. When he asked about Ben, the neighbor told him he was a neighborhood boy who had drowned.
Jadusable posted videos of his gameplay and all the weird events that happened on his Youtube. Link drowned in the game, and the save file changed to Ben Drowned. Jadusable claimed the statue was now stalking him in his real life too, and now appearing in his dream. He also said he heard a voice speaking to him about Ben.
Shortly after that, Ben started possessing his computer, posting things to his YouTube account and even talking to him through Cleverbot, asking Jadusable to free him from the cartridge. Things escalated and eventually, the Jadusable to destroy the cartridge and his laptop, warning he would not post again and any future updated would be from Ben and shouldn’t be trusted. The updates after that were codes that led to a website for a cult called “The Moon Children”.
The story just continues from there. There was even a video game based on it. This video gives a pretty good (but long) summary of the tale:
The 'Fallout 3 Predicts the Future' Legend
One big gaming rumor is that the morse code that can play on the radios in Fallout 3 actually predicts the future. For instance, one gives the date of the BP Oil spill, alongside “accident in gulf, several dead. Oil spill apparently averted.” There’s also supposedly a code predicting the date of the death of Gary Coleman, coupling the numbers with “What you talkin’ ‘bout? You’ll be missed.”
However this hoax has been definitively debunked. The predictions also said the Queen of England would die on March 19, 2014 and that didn’t happen. Unless they’re covering it up by using a double. (It seems unlikely Britney Spears will win an Oscar in 2023 either, which is another prediction).
The 'Bezerk' Curse
This is the rumor of another game that caused deaths, though these deaths are verified. A video game called Bezerk killed a eighteen-year-old gamer named Peter Burkowski. Well, not exactly the game, but the stress of the game. Peter had a weak heart and even the stress from the prolonged gaming that earned him a high score was enough to make it give out. What's really eerie is that another player, Jeff Dailey, had died of heart attack a year earlier after getting a high score on the game. That kind of coincidence really makes the game look cursed…
The 'Killswitch' Legend
Killswitch was supposedly a Russian game that had a limited release of only 5,000 copies back in 1989. It was a creepy survival horror game about a young girl and an invisible demon. When the game was beaten, or if the player died, it would self-delete, wiping all game files from the computer irretrievably.
According to legend, a copy of the game turned up on E-Bay and a man named Yamamoto Ryuichi got it for $733,000. He wanted to do a "let’s play" of the game for YouTube but the only video he ever posted was of himself crying silently while staring at the computer screen.
Of course, the game or this video have never actually been found. The story is thought to be based off a game in a short story by Catherine M. Valente that can be found in her collection The Melancholy of Mechagirl.
The Pale Luna Legend
Legend goes that Pale Luna was a notoriously buggy and frustrating text-based adventure game. It would crash when players put in the answer it didn’t want and they’d have to restart.
But one player, Micheal Nevins, played through the game and managed to solve the puzzle. He got a bunch of coordinates as a reward. Expecting to find buried treasure, Nevins grabbed a shovel and headed out. What he found at the coordinates instead was the half-decomposed head of an 11-year-old girl names Karen Paulsen. The rest of her body was never found.
This is an urban legend for sure, but was beloved enough that someone actually made a Pale Luna game based off of it.
The Shadow People of Hell Valley
This one’s for real. In Shiverburn Level Galaxy of Super Mario Galaxy 2, you see three hollow-eyed figures watching you from a ridge. The figures are marked as HellValleySkyTrees in the game files and the sky is marked as BeyondHellValley. This is the image for the file:
Those ain’t trees.