Video games have been a part of the culture now for more than 30 years. That means they’re old and established enough to have their own spooky myths and horror stories.
The story: In the 1980 arcade video game Berzerk, players traveled through a maze and had to use a laser to kill robots before the robots killed them. In 1981, a 19-year-old man named Jeff Dailey compiled the highest score possible in the game: 16,660. In 1982, an 18-year-old named Peter Burkowski played two very good games of Berzerk in a row, landing in the top 10 “high scores” chart on his arcade’s model. What’s the connection between Dailey and Burkowski? Just after they both made their high scores, they both died instantly of a heart attack. The reason? Beating the game carried a cursed—after all, take the “1” and “0” off the score, and you’re left with the number “666.”
The truth: The death of Dailey hasn’t been widely corroborated, but Burkowksi’s has—he sadly died in April 1982 at Friar Tuck’s Game Room in Calumet City, Illinois, immediately after he finished playing Berzerk.
The story: In 1989, a Soviet software publisher called Karvina Corporation made a prototype of a dark, horror-themed game for home computers called Killswitch. Players had to escape a creepy, monster-infested coal mine, and could play as either a little girl or a demon. The prize for beating the game: The screen goes white, and the game deleted itself, never to be played again. Supposedly only 5,000 copies were produced, and Karvina released a statement saying that, “like reality,” the game was “unrepeatable, unretrievable, and illogical. One might even say ineffable. Death is final; death is complete.” The only evidence the game existed is that in the mid-2000s, a Japanese man named Yamamoto Ryiuchi bought a mint-condition copy of Killswitch at an auction for $733,000. He planned to videotape himself playing the game, and upload the footage to the Internet. The only video he uploaded: one of himself, weeping.
The truth: Killswitch is probably not a real game, because not only have there been no credible accounts for people who actually played it, but there’s no evidence that it ever existed. The software on a computer disk may have deleted itself, but the physical disk would have still been around. Additionally, there’s no record of a company called Karvina ever operating in the Soviet Union. The story of Yamamoto Ryuichi and his sobbing video is also fictional.
The story: In exploring the immersive world of the 2008 video game Fallout 3, players can use a radio to pick up Morse code transmissions. Once translated, they seem to be predictions of future events. For example, the Morse code says that Diff’rent Strokes actor Gary Coleman will die in 2010.
The truth: The game did predict that Coleman would die in 2010…and he actually did. Its other predictions might be a little off-base. It said Queen Elizabeth II would die in 2014, and that Britney Spears would win an Academy Award in 2023. As of 2017, the Queen is still alive…and Spears has six years to work on her acting chops.