The Atari E.T. Game Land Fill Legend


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The year is 1983. The Alamogordo Daily News reported in September that between 10-20 (actually 14) semi-trucks coming from a storehouse in El Paso, Texas, traveled 90 miles to a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. At night, they would unload, cover deep within the earth, and seal with concrete, Atari boxes, cartridges, consoles, and the shame brought with their creation.

Among the gizmos lay purged was one of art’s greatest abominations: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Atari videogame. An estimated 750,000 copies lay crushed in their dusty graves; the cause of death being rock-bottom sales due to abysmal quality by rushed development.

Whispers of what happened that day trickled into an urban legend of doubt, intrigue, and mystery... until…

31 years later.

On Sunday, at 12:45pm MDT, a film documentary seeking out the video game grave yard teamed up with Xbox Entertainment Studios and Lighbox Entertainment, went back to that old landfill and dug up the remains. There, in front of hundreds of spectators, revealed the epitome of what was one (of many) man's trash, to be a treasured relic of gaming history.

The E.T. Atari cartridge did not die alone; several cases of the game Centipede, Pac-Man, and others games were also found, surprisingly, to be in very good condition despite three decades – unfortunately none of them were playable.


There’s a notion in the video game industry that the licensed movie adaptations of video games (and vice versa) wind up becoming laughable flops. The Atari E.T. game competes as one of the worst video games in history, but, as with all art, found a way to be enjoyed.

Besides the novelty of his lovable wrinkly testicle-like face, critics found the gameplay of collecting Reese’s pieces and part of E.T.’s phone to be a repetitive and vicious cycle; try to watch the following without any hint of irritation:

Doesn’t it just take you back?

Image via YouTube