A worker displays the first recovered "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" cartridge at the old Alamogordo landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. REUTERS/Mark Wilson
Documentary filmmakers digging in a New Mexico landfill have
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 320 km 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
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 46m by 46m off the city's main commercial
"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
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,"