News

‘E.T.’ video games found buried in New Mexico after ’80s flop

‘E.T.’ video games found buried in New Mexico after ’80s flop

WORST VIDEO GAME EVER?:Archaeologist Andrew Reinhard (R) shows off the first "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" cartridges recovered from the old Alamogordo landfill, in Alamogordo, New Mexico, April 26. Photo: Reuters/Mark Wilson

By Joseph J. Kolb

ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) – Documentary filmmakers digging in a New Mexico landfill on Saturday unearthed hundreds of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” cartridges, considered by some the worst video game ever made and blamed for contributing to the downfall of the video game industry in the 1980s.

Some gamers speculate that thousands or even millions of the unwanted cartridges made by Atari were buried in a landfill in Alamogordo, about 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque.

Who dumped the videos, how many they buried and why they did it inspired the dig and a documentary of the event by Microsoft Corp’s Xbox Entertainment Studios.

The first batch of E.T. games was discovered under layers of trash after about three hours of digging, a Microsoft spokeswoman said, putting to rest questions about whether the cartridges would be found at all.

She could not immediately provide an exact count of how many cartridges were uncovered.

The game was a design and marketing failure after it was rushed out to coincide with the release of Steven Spielberg’s 1982 hit movie “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” and it contributed to a collapse of the video game industry in its early years.

Atari is believed to have been saddled with most of the 5 million E.T. game cartridges produced. According to New York Times reports at the time, the game manufacturer buried the games in the New Mexico desert in the middle of the night.

A game enthusiast later tracked down the suspected burial site and spread the word about the location, said Sam Claiborn, an editor at video game news site IGN.

The approximate size of the dig site at an old Alamogordo landfill measures 150 feet by 150 feet off the city’s main commercial street.

“For a lot of people, it’s something that they’ve wondered about and it’s been rumored and talked about for 30 years, and they just want an answer,” said Zak Penn, the film’s director.

When the game was first released in 1982 it retailed for around $29.99, but now often sells on eBay for less than $5.

“I don’t know how much people would pay for a broken ET game, but as a piece of history, it has a much different value,” Penn said.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Lisa Shumaker)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment

REVIEW: ‘Birdman’ could be the best film of 2014

In this image released by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Michael Keaton portrays Riggan in a scene from "Birdman."

You’ve heard the buzz for Michael Keaton's "Birdman." It’s loud and it's merited.

in Entertainment

PHOTOS: 31 adorable pets in Halloween costumes

Bailey Jarrett and her dog Teddy visit a Dallas-area PetSmart store on Oct. 25, 2014, for the company's annual in-store Halloween event. The event took place at all PetSmart locations throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.

This Halloween is going to the dogs... and cats, ferrets, and bunnies.

in Music

Queen, Fleetwood Mac won’t be playing Glastonbury

fleetwoodmac

The two veteran rock acts were strongly rumored to have been booked as the big names for the 2015 festival.

in Music

Rihanna donates $135K to AIDS charity

rihanna

The singer dished out $135,000 at an auction to benefit AIDS research at the star-studded amfAR Inspiration gala.

in Entertainment

Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘I’m proud to be gay’

timcook

Cook wrote a column published on Thursday and said he hopes that his declaration can help others.