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Surprise! New Mexico landfill excavation unearths E.T. Atari games
April 28, 2014 | By Mike Rose

April 28, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Video

If you currently refer to the Atari video game burial of 1983 as "an urban legend," Microsoft has got the proof for you that the burial of millions of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial games did in fact happen.

Earlier this month, Xbox Entertainment was given the go-ahead to dig up the new Mexico landfill where it is said Atari buried its games during the North American video game crash of 1983.

The dig started last week, and it hasn't taken the team long to uncover the evidence. The Xbox Wire blog has a detailed description of the excavation, along with photo evidence showing E.T. cartridges.

The team plans to give "a comprehensive rundown" sometime in the next few days. The dig is in aid of capturing footage for an upcoming documentary titled Atari: Game Over.

Xbox Entertainment has also released the following b-roll footage from the dig, giving a further glimpse into how it looks.

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Steve Cawood
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but why?

Doug Poston
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Watch the video, they give some reasons.
You can decide if they are good reasons.

TL;DV - It's a set piece in an upcoming documentary on the history of Atari. IMHO: It's an important part of video game history.

David Paris
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I'm guessing that it just has to do with needing to store all that physical inventory somewhere (space costs money).

Maria Jayne
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I imagine if they're still shrink wrapped at least some of them would be functional. They would make an interesting art exhibit and they could probably sell a few to collectors.

SD Marlow
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Oh look, it's the Fappy Bird of news stories. Ugh. I think the part that bothers me the most is how "mainstream media" reports on this as if the entire gaming community is on the edge of our seats about this. The REAL story was that someone wanted to make a documentary about the cartridges being buried, and film "the big dig adventure." I mean, seriously, without the actual going thru trash part, there is NOTHING else going on here.

People of Earth. Do NOT watch this "trash" documentary. Do NOT buy potentially hazardous pieces of Atari history should this crap go on sale. Come on, we're better than this.

Benjamin Quintero
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Meh. I cant muster the strength to get angry about all of this. I played ET when I was young. It is in fact a terrible game but Superman 64 is arguably still worse. Im glad they found it and hopefully they donate sales to Childs Play or something. I doubt it will sell for much now that 1M units have just been added to the inventory out there. :)

Jonathan Murphy
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Big Road Truckers is worse than Superman 64.

Doug Poston
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I agree that "mainstream media" is over-hyping this. But that's what they do.

The resulting documentary could be good, or it might be so bad that the only justice would be to bury it along side ET.

I don't expect it will make any huge changes to the industry, but it's good to remember the past from time-to-time.

Jed Hubic
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Why should I not watch this documentary? Should I watch the bachelor or something else? This is an interesting piece of history that they're digging up and going to use to frame a documentary around the video game industry. If you think you're above this, get over yourself.

Seriously, the cynicism from people now a days sickens me.

Jonathan Murphy
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This quote defines this moment, "But I take it, I bury it in the sand for a thousand years, it becomes priceless." Also... considering the current shape of the game industry I see a lot of irony in this.

Alvaro Gonzalez
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They call #DiggingET archeology, the only thing I see are tomb riders.

Mike Griffin
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Obviously it was a huge, huge film. And Atari was peaking at the time.
So the abysmal failure of an atrocious licensed Atari "game" based on this film has a place in history.

It kicked-off a long history of terrible movie-based games throughout the 80s and 90s, many of which should have been buried before releasing (with all due respect to the handful of good ones).

Luckily the industry learned its lesson, and movie games -- for the most part -- significantly improved in the last 15 years or so.

This landfill excavation is a testament to the long road movie-based games have traveled. And the idiocy of burying a shit ton of plastic cartridges instead of attempting to recycle the materials in some capacity. Oh, 1980s.

We simply will not repeat the video game crash of the 80s again, so there's no need to dwell on that "lesson from the past". Totally different era/society/tech/availability and accessibility today.

Pallav Nawani
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I wonder if they will try to sell them cartridges.