Polybius: The Video Game

Neveditha Swaminathan, II Year B.Com (A&F)
Image Source: http://www.tvtropes.org

Video games are popular hobbies for a lot of people, especially the younger crowd. A lot of video games portray fantasy with mythical characters, catchy visual and sound effects, prompting players to keep playing to beat their own high scores. Instances of people developing disabilities due to overplaying video games often make the news headlines. However, video game arcade owners take little or no measures to stop these players from playing too much, as they get paid for every hour that the players spend in an arcade.

One such addicting game is ‘Polybius’, which is a 1981 arcade game that is supposed to have derived its origins from an urban legend. This game was apparently restricted to the arcades of Portland, Oregon in the United States and was a huge hit among teenagers. It made its first entry in the late 1970’s and was very popular among the residents of Portland, who would fight over who could play next.

The arcades that had the Polybius game machine would witness men dressed in official suits (like the FBI or other US Government officials), paying periodic visits to these arcades to record the effects that this game had on the minds of the people.

The players of this game even took to extreme measures to play the game. A player named Brian Mauro played for 28 continuous hours, but had to quit due to a stomachache from playing the game for too long. Another player, Michael Lopez, played the game for hours together as well, and had to stop playing after he developed a severe migraine. The others who have played the game reported various illnesses like disturbed sleep, hallucinations, amnesia, night terrors etc.

The game, as such, did not contain any content that distorted the minds of the players, but many who played this game for too long developed amnesia and could not remember who they were or where they lived. The text in the game read ‘© Sinnesloschen 1981’, where ‘Sinneslochen’ roughly meant sensory deprivation, when translated from German.

According to many sources, this game is believed to be a hoax, which originated from a website called coinorp.org for publicity purposes. There have also been many websites that debunked the game and stated that the two players Brian Mauro and Michael Lopez were playing different games in the same arcade, and that Polybius did not exist at all.

Many people have come forward to explain that they have played Polybius before, but this was again a hoax. The game was reportedly discontinued after a while. Till date, no one knows whether Polybius really existed or not and has been ruled down as an urban legend by itself.

The Perks Of Being A Potterhead

Hanaa Mariam A, I Year B.A. English

Fanning myself, I lean on the balcony of my country estate.  A soft wind blows across my face, lifting my hair ever so slightly. I close my eyes and let out a small sigh. This sure was a very good decision. The best decision I ever made.

Two weeks ago, I was facing a dilemma when a man in black robes appeared out of thin air and hurriedly pressed a gold chain with a round pendant on my hand and disappeared again into thin air. And by thin air, I mean, thin air. As if he had apparated right in front of me and I had to close my eyes, shake my head and remind myself that no, wizards don’t  apparate in front of a Muggle and break the Statute of Secrecy and every other law which only Percy Weasley remembers, unless, of course, if said wizard was a convict trying to escape the dementors of Azkaban.

The gold pendant had a small hourglass in it and a note neatly tucked away at the back. Wondering why on earth a random cloaked dude would hand me such a thing, without even telling me what to do or whether he had stolen it, I decided to open the note, hoping it had a name and an address so that I could return it.

When I unfolded the paper and read the contents, I almost laughed out loud. It was too funny to believe. I mean, if I wasn’t a Potterhead I wouldn’t have known that what I was holding in my hands was a Time-Turner. Or some bad prototype of it; I couldn’t decide.  There were only five words scribbled in a neat handwriting.  No name. No address.

Three turns should do it.

And the best part was, I read it in Dumbledore’s voice.

A large part of me that believed in the wizarding world wanted to follow the instructions; wanted to believe that yes, the wizarding world existed. Not that I doubted it anyway. It was just some annoying muggles telling me that it didn’t exist. So, I did what any Potterhead would have done. I turned the hourglass thrice.

As soon as I did it, I felt a tugging sensation at the back of my stomach and soon was enveloped by complete darkness. If not for the weird ache in my stomach I would have thought that I was dead. I landed awkwardly on my feet and stumbled. I hadn’t realised that I had closed my eyes all this while because when I opened them, what I saw knocked the breath out of me.

Green mountains covered every inch of space, and a small town could be seen, bustling with activity. There were a few sheep in front of me grazing about, mindless to the fact that a girl had just appeared out of thin air. Just when I was drinking in the beauty of the place, a voice came from behind me, ‘It’s beautiful, isn’t it?’

I whirled around to find a grey haired man speaking to me; it had to be me, because there was nobody else around. Taking my shocked silence as an answer, he went on to tell me that the Time-Turner (or what I had thought was a Time-Turner) was actually a modern, portable version of a time-machine. It had taken close to six short years to develop this marvel and apparently, there were three other people like me who had turned the hourglass and were now living quite peacefully in the eighteenth-century, which was where I was now. The grey haired man who was standing opposite to me was actually the person in charge who made sure that the people who turned the glass made it here.

I was in Turania, a remote village, located in Eina, known in the twenty-first century as England.  Apparently, it was Dave-the-grey-haired-man’s responsibility to see that the time travellers were provided with a decent house and the necessary money (which was taken from my bank account back from the twenty-first century), which was a good deal because the little money that I had was enough for me to live a luxurious life, as luxurious as the eighteenth-century could get, for a few years. And by ‘few years’ Dave meant the next eighty years of my life. For some reason, this fact made me incredibly proud because I had thought that I was working too hard for too little.

In the next few days, I was shown around the town of Turania and my new country estate. That was the best part about the entire leap. It was a two-floor mansion with ten rooms (I didn’t see the point of ten rooms but Dave insisted that since I was rich enough to own one, I should). I settled into this new life quite comfortably (despite the long dresses I had to wear on a daily basis). There were no cell phones or internet connections (obviously) and that meant I didn’t have to bother about not replying to my messages sooner. Nor did I have to worry about which picture of mine was beautiful and aesthetic enough to be put as my profile picture on social media.

And the greatest advantage was the fact that since it was the period during which the most famous novels, dramas and poems were written by famous and likewise infamous authors, I had the opportunity and (money) to buy the first editions of said books and spoil it for the friends of my reading circle. I had good food three times a day and my life was peaceful for once.

I mean, what more could I want?

I was pleased with myself for following my gut. The wizarding world had helped in more ways than I had ever imagined.

Virtually Right Here

Arsha Mech Vikraman, I Year B.A. English

2017, or rather three-quarters of it, has been a time of newer and better gadgets, but more importantly, Virtual Reality or VR. For some of last year and a few years before, the Oculus Rift seemed like the only way of using VR, but now we are seeing a new wave of competition.

Now, VR is becoming more and more useful as the days pass. Trainee pilots, drivers and many others can use Virtual Reality and learn from the experience rather than damage actual, expensive planes and cars. This makes it a more convenient way to train more people in a shorter period of time. The relatively cheaper Google Cardboard uses a cardboard box-like structure where you can house your phone and use it as a screen. Similar to this is the Samsung Gear VR which looks slightly better but basically performs with the same function. The more expensive Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which have their own screens and gyroscopes, offer more movement.

If you want to see how far VR is actually progressing, you only need to look at Youtube. The platform is proving instrumental in helping Virtual Reality reach a widespread audience. On most (if not all) videos, there is an option to watch using Google Cardboard, and many channels like Vogue, Vevo and several artists are releasing videos in the 360 degrees format, which does require a lot of head turning and you will probably end up with a sore neck for days to come.

Virtual reality has also reached an already successful adult industry- the pornography industry. Several websites now feature a Virtual Reality category which requires users to have headsets. Even cameras have now come out with 360 degrees shooting to make those crazy videos.

A more mobile version called Augmented Reality is now entering the world. Apple’s recently announced iPhone X (pronounced iPhone ten) features this, which makes one reminiscent of Pokemon Go. Now, instead of using Pokemon Go to experience augmented reality, you will see the feature already integrated into the phone. It can be accessed through the camera and can be used with several games which are coming out later this year, making superb use of this feature.

Unfortunately, if you want a better experience than the Samsung Gear or the Google Cardboard, you’ll have to spend a pretty penny on the Oculus or the HTC which won’t be of much use if you don’t use Virtual Reality a lot.

Now for the foreseeable future, virtual reality seems to be headed in a great direction, but only time will tell whether the interest of the general public will rise or fade.

Beyond Hogwarts And Wizardry

Radha Rani, I Year B.Com
Divya Iyer, I Year B.S.W
Pushpamithra, I Year B.A. English
Nikhita U, I Year B.Com

Harry Potter, the most loved fantasy series of all time, is not just a story about magic and spells. There are several reasons why so many people, young and old, cherish this series, and here are some of the themes that focus on much more than just the story:
The Boy who Lived:

On the topic of Harry Potter, let’s talk about Harry Potter. Not the book series, not the movies, not the video games, but the boy. The boy who lived.
See, long before I read meta posts and fanfics on the topic, Harry’s sacrifice(s) fascinated me.
How? How can you be that stubborn? That noble? That selfless?

How can you love someone that much? Enough to be prepared to give everything to protect them?

And to be honest, I still don’t know the answers. Harry sacrificed his life to save people, he was ready to die if it meant making the world a better place. He was a traumatised child who decided that he didn’t want people to suffer, not anymore, and he did all that he could to achieve that.

So really, the most important thing I’ve learnt as a fan is that it was never the scar, it was always the boy.


Sorting & Houses:

Imagine being an eleven year old, sitting in front of a large hall full of children much older than you. These children are sitting at four different tables, and even though their uniforms are essentially the same, their school ties are of different colours. An old and frayed hat is deposited unceremoniously on your tiny head, and it calls out a house, and suddenly you belong to one of those groups, and are an outsider to the other three. You’re just eleven, and suddenly, your identity is defined in terms of these narrow ideologies, boxed in, labelled.

Is there no scope for growth? Sorting, as we know it, doesn’t give you the space to re-examine your ideologies and decide that maybe the values you found important at eleven aren’t what you want at seventeen. How is an old hat and a school tie supposed to understand you and decide your future for you?  If this isn’t stratification, I don’t know what is.


The Charm in Charms:

Most people love Harry Potter but how many of us know that most of its spells are derived from latin and greek? J.K. Rowling has told us that imagination is important and through her book, she proves it to us. Even when her parents thought that her imagination wasn’t of much use and wanted her to pursue a vocational course, she brilliantly brushed them off and did the course of her dreams and through that she proved that learning a bunch of old myths and legends wasn’t useless.

All the spells she uses are derived from latin or greek and each contain a meaning which we wouldn’t have thought of. For eg., the spell ‘accio’ is derived from the latin word ‘accerso’ which means “to summon or fetch” and ‘sonorus’ from ‘sonare’ which means “sound”. An interesting spell is ‘wingardium leviosa’. It is a mix of many languages- “wing” provides image of flight; the “ard” part is from “arduus” (latin) which means “steep/elevated” and “levi” means “to lift”.


A Tale Fuelled By Our Fancies:
What makes fantasy so appealing to us is that imagination is all you need to design miracles. Rowling cleverly exploits our never-ending list of what-if-there-were’s to shape the Harry Potter Universe. Haven’t we all wanted to be invisible? To teleport? Ta-da, Rowling gives you the invisibility cloak and the apparition. Even the most profound desires find salvation in her words.

Our fears are our most gruesome foes, it takes a lifetime to overcome them. But Jo silhouettes them and says that all one has to do is wave at them with a ‘Riddikulus’. She gives us the ‘Pensieve’ which allows us to relive the moments that we’re afraid to lose. But losing our loved ones can be the most daunting; to have things you wish you’d told them; to want to connect to them again. While Death cannot be defied, the Resurrection stone can give you the ‘one last time’ you crave with them, though separated by a veil.

To sum it up, don’t we all find joy in making up scenarios in our head? Likewise, Harry Potter is a euphoric make-believe, something that is a part of us and will live after us, like a horcrux; a horcrux created not by destroying another soul but by truly loving one.

Movie Review: American Made

Uma Madhu, III Year B.A. English
Nilanka Anna Christy, III Year B.A. English
Image source: paulharrisonline.blogspot.com

Tom Cruise’s latest foray into the big screen is funny, incredulous, and way more delightful than a movie about a drug cartel is supposed to be. ‘American Made’, an escapist romp of a movie, is a largely biographical account of the TWA Pilot Barry Seal (Cruise) hired by the CIA. He later becomes involved in the Medellin drug Cartel of the 1980s. Director Doug Liman does not disappoint, revealing once again his flair for holding the tension taut and tight from beginning to end, while also making for an entertaining, almost fiercely watchable flick.

‘American Made’ breaks the stereotype of a thriller/ crime drama. Instead of being dark and heavy and filled with violence, this movie is simply hilarious. Even the commentary it makes on class, society and American politics are underlined with a humorous frivolity, tied together with a thread of light happiness that sets it apart from other bio-pics and, indeed, other thrillers.

A large part of the sheer delight of the movie, of course, comes from Barry Seal himself. In no time at all we find ourselves rooting for this likable maverick, bright and fizzling with good-natured opportunism and recklessness, blessed with oozing charm and an almost uncanny streak of luck. Of course, it is Thomas Cruise Mapother the IVth himself who steals the show. He is armed with disarming charisma and Cruise carries Barry Seal with seasoned élan, keeping the audience hooked and invested even as he blurs more than a few moral boundaries.

His unbelievable good fortune, his towering mansion, his gorgeous wife, and the money spilling from every corner of his house (literally) seems to only make the movie more amusing. Perhaps a reason for this may be that he never plays the self-loathing, new-money-spiraling-downward trope. From beginning to end, Barry is Barry, not quite hung up on right and wrong, but cheerful, easy-going, more than a little daredevil, and devoted to his family. The life of Barry Seal can be compared to that of a very satisfying game of Monopoly; one where he has access to several ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ cards.

Even with Cruise taking the spotlight so effortlessly, the other members of the cast do not fail to make an impact. Sarah Wright beautifully embodied the loving, exasperated Lucy Seal and Domhnall Gleeson played the role of Schafer, a vaguely threatening CIA Agent with a sort of confusing charm. However, the happy surprise comes in the form of Alejandro Edda and Mauicio Mejia as Jorge Ochoa and Pablo Escobar, the leaders of the Medellin cartel. Despite being the antagonists of the movie, the actors stayed true to the spirit of the flick, opting for a moustachioed, cartoonish, quite buffoonish villainy, rather than evoking any real sense of fear.

Cesar Chalone’s cinematography adapts beautifully to the shifting locations. It is rich on the bright 80’s aesthetics in the US based scenes. It is roving and lively across the vast plains and rivers in the scenes based in South America, adding to the bright, bubbling joy that the movie is sure to provide. It’s the type of movie that seems to tell you to just live even if the world is falling apart around you. Don’t go there expecting any insightful commentary or even a serious thriller. Grab your popcorn, kick back and enjoy this thrilling yet spectacularly comical adventure where the American dream comes true.

Of Knowing

Pooja Krishna H A, III Year B.A. English

What would it be like to be invisible,
I wonder
To be able to float along, along with the wind?


What would it be like not to exist,
I wonder
To be one among the million raindrops?


What would it be like to be forgotten,
I wonder,
To be just a shadow; just a memory?


What would it be like to be all these things,
I wonder
And I realise…I already know…

On A Quest To Find Donald Duck’s Pants

Krishna J Nair, I Year B.A. English

Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
I’ve been dreaming about finding Donald Duck’s pants, but still, here I am; pondering over where they went and, more importantly, why he wraps a towel around his waist after shower, but walks around in his underpants all the time.

The best place to find these answers must be Disney Land. With the famous ride “It’s a small world after all,” you’ll never find someone you know there, for it is swarmed by humans enthralled by the animated world. This is one proof of how much influence the animated world has over the real world. Millions of people visit Disney Land all over the world every year; sometimes even multiple visitors. Disney Land and Universal Studios, in a way, promote animated movies because, though any teenager may be fascinated with animated movies, the parents accompanying them may not; which raises the question – “who is this girl with the ‘frozen’ dress?”

Disney movies, or any animated movie for that matter, not only spreads ‘joy’ around the world, but also evokes the hidden talents of cartoonists (young and old) and children. When people see cartoon figures on screen as live people walking around, waving and hugging random people, it gives them the hope that anything is possible.

So if anyone cribs about watching too many animated movies, you can just throw facts at their face. Moreover, you can never find a sad face in this wonderland, because hey, “Hakuna Matata.” So update your bucket list now, because if you are lucky enough, you may get to share a ride with Nemo and Dory, with Dory misspelling your name till the very end

Humans Of Stella

Samyuktha Shiva, I Year B.A. English
Krishna J Nair, I Year B.A. English


‘Oh! Arts isn’t going to get you anywhere in life!’

I have always admired literature but I kept pulling myself away because everyone around me kept badgering me with what they considered as the universal truth.

But one year into B.Com, I realised that it definitely wasn’t my piece of cake! I realised I could do wonders if I took up Literature instead. I found that writing was my one true love and I didn’t want to fool myself by thinking otherwise. What really drove me to take up Literature is the fact that there are absolutely no limits to this kind of study. None!

In fact, I feel like fantasy and literature go hand in hand. Literature provides and strengthens the platform you need to express the impossible. There are people out there who are interested in such a world where everything is possible and there is zero space for judgement or what is usually considered “logical”, me being one of them.

That’s the thing about fantasy – as impossible as it may seem, it’s still something people will hold close to their hearts.

Go ahead and ask the Potterheads! They’ll tell you that Hogwarts really does exist and that they themselves are wizards and witches. (Now that I’ve told you, I must admit, I’m one myself. Shhh!)

Fantasy helps us escape the confines of modern day reality. It helps us believe in the power of imagination and in the power of coming up with endless possibilities – including how a rock can float a few inches above your palm if you will it to! It all truly depends on how YOU perceive it.

We all have a little bit of magic within us.
Find your magic, find it quick, and never ever let it die.

Star Fire

Pooja Krishna H A, III Year B.A. English

Is there no star will lend me its fire?
For I’m cold, so terribly cold.
My teeth chatter, my skin pales
And as I lie there, shivering and shouting
For help, in vain,
I could do with the memories
And the warmth they contain.


Is there no star will lend me its fire?
For I’m hot, so stiflingly hot.
My eyes water, my skin reddens
And as I lie there, burning and sweating,
And as my vision fades, and my limbs tire,
I could do with the light
That accompanies their cold fire…

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