'Worst' video game sees the light of day again

DUMPSTER DIVING: Thousands - or even millions - of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial cartridges made by Atari were buried in a landfill in Alamogordo.


    Apr 29, 2014

    'Worst' video game sees the light of day again


    DOCUMENTARY film-makers digging in a New Mexico landfill on Saturday unearthed hundreds of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial cartridges, considered by some as the worst video game 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 the landfill in Alamogordo, about 320km south-east of Albuquerque.

    Who dumped the cartridges, how many they buried and why they did it inspired the dig and a documentary on the event by Microsoft'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 spokesman said.

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

    The game - rushed out to coincide with the release of Steven Spielberg's 1982 hit movie, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - was a design and marketing failure.

    Atari is believed to have been saddled with most of the five 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, said Sam Claiborn, an editor at video game news site IGN.

    The dig site measures about 46m by 46m, and is off the city's main commercial street.

    "It's something that (a lot of people) wondered about, and it's been rumoured and talked about for 30 years, and they just want an answer," said Zak Penn, the documentary's director.

    When the game was released in 1982, it retailed for around US$29.99, but now often sells on eBay for less than US$5 (S$6.30).