An urban legend in the world of video gaming has proven to be true.
For the past three decades it has been rumored that back in the 1980s, failing video game company Atari consigned around a dozen truckloads of game cartridges – all of which were the same title – to be buried deep under a concrete-covered landfill in the southeastern New Mexico desert.
That title? A game based on Steven Spielberg’s “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”. While the film itself is a bonafide cinematic classic, the game has often been called “the worst video game ever created” and was thought to have played a big part in not just the downfall of the company but to have impacted video games in general for several years.
Yesterday, workers for a production company doing a documentary about the demise of Atari uncovered at least several hundred of the reported three-quarters of a million discarded copies of the game. The film’s director Zak Penn showed one of the cartridges retrieved from the site in Alamogordo and said hundreds more were in the surrounding mounds of garbage.
Also along for the ride was James Heller, a former Atari manager invited by the production to the dig site. He was the one who, in 1983, was tasked with the disposal of the cartridges which were sitting in a warehouse in El Paso, Texas.
The documentary is expected to be released later this year on Microsoft’s Xbox game consoles.