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Marvel's Loki Just Referenced Gaming's Weirdest Urban Legend

Disney+ and Marvel Studios have knocked it out of the park once again with "Loki," the timey-wimey adventure featuring Tom Hiddleston as the titular God of Mischief and brother of Thor. And though the show, which chronicles the trials and tribulations of the golden-horned god and his many alternate timeline "variants," is chock-full of Easter eggs, most of them — like that Thanoscopter, for instance — are squarely rooted in Marvel Comics lore. One Easter egg from last night's episode of "Loki," however, featured one of gaming's most infamous urban legends: the mysterious "Polybius" arcade game.

In the fifth episode of "Loki," the show's namesake antihero is trapped in what the Time Variance Authority (TVA) refers to as "The Void," which is basically a realm at the end of time where the TVA dumps everything that it's "pruned" from the Sacred Timeline. Based on all of his chaotic shenanigans, it's easy to understand why Loki's mischievous variants have been captured and deposited in The Void — but in a hilarious nod to a real life urban legend, viewers get a glimpse of the "Polybius" arcade cabinet during an ill-fated meeting between Loki and one of his more presidential variants.

For those out of the know, the legend of "Polybius" began sometime in the '80s, and it centered around an addictive arcade game that would induce hallucinations and headaches in players. But, as all urban legends go, "Polybius" hid a dark secret — one apparently worthy of the TVA's attention.

The dark legend of Polybius and the CIA

While "Polybius" seemed like little more than a super fun game — like "Bugsnax" — its actual story was much, much creepier than it seemed (again, like "Bugsnax"). As previously mentioned, the game — which supposedly consisted of sequences of trippy geometric shapes — caused physical discomfort in players despite its addictive nature. Many a video game can stake this claim; after all, who hasn't lost whole chunks of their day to their favorite titles? "Polybius," however, was designed to consume its players' attention — and possibly their minds.

According to the urban legend, strange men in black would sometimes approach "Polybius" arcade cabinets, tinkering around before just as quickly leaving without a word. This, coupled with the physical ailments associated with the game — and a few reports of teenagers going missing following a few rounds of "Polybius" — led some to believe that a shadowy organization connected to the U.S. government was somehow involved with the game. Some gamers even believe that "Polybius" was related to the infamous Project MK-Ultra mind control experiments performed by the CIA in the '50s and '60s.

In the end, however, there's no proof that "Polybius" ever existed as anything other than a creepy story whispered during game-a-thon breaks. Still, at least in the MCU, there might very well be a reason that some gamers have claimed to have seen it — until it mysteriously vanished into the Void.