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article imageFilmmakers find first trove of buried Atari game cartridges

By Nathan Salant     Apr 27, 2014 in Technology
Alamogordo - Filmmakers digging Saturday in a New Mexico landfill found hundreds of cartridges of "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," considered by many to be the worst video game ever made.
http://youtu.be/kGc3FMqxjaM
Documentary filmmakers hired by Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox Entertainment Studios were on hand to record the dig at a landfill in Alamogordo, N.M., where gamer legend held that millions of copies of the game were dumped.
The legend was that Atari Corp. buried the cartridges after the game's flop was so spectacular it might have played a role in the collapse of the video game industry in the 1980s, according to the Reuters news service.
The game had been rushed into production in 1982 and launched to coincide with the release of Steven Spielberg's hit movie of the same name, Reuters said.
But who dumped the games, how many were discarded and why they were tossed are still matters of speculation that the film's director, Zak Penn, likely is trying to answer.
Almagordo is 200 miles southeast of Albuquerque.
"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," Penn said.
Games began to be pulled from the trash after about three hours of digging, Reuters said, but Microsoft personnel at the site would not say how many were eventually found.
Atari, which was thought to have been stuck with millions of the game cartridges when it was pulled from stores, buried the games at the New Mexico desert landfill in the middle of the night, Reuters said.
A game enthusiast figured out the burial site and spread the word, IGN gaming news site Sam Claiborn told Reuters.
"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.
"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" sold for $29.99 when it was released in 1982, but now sells on eBay for less than $5, Reuters said.
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