A planned excavation will soon give closure to a long-standing video game urban legend, and may provide new insight into the industry's crash in 1983.
Canada-based film production company Fuel Industries has obtained permission from the City Commission of Alamogordo, New Mexico to excavate a landfill containing
a large quantity of unsold Atari 2600 games, for the purpose of filming a documentary. Local news outlet KRQE reports
that Fuel Industries will have access to the site over the next six months.
According to reports
in 1983, between 10 and 20 semi-trailer trucks filled with unsold, inoperable, and prototype Atari hardware and software were dispatched from an El Paso, Texas storehouse to a landfill in Alamogordo. The cargo was reportedly dumped, crushed, and encased in concrete.
Urban legends state that the film-licensed game E.T.
comprised a significant chunk of the dumped material. While E.T.
's gameplay quality is up for debate (some say it's one of the worst games of all time; others claim that it's a misunderstood
mediocrity), it was a notoriously poor seller, and played a role in Atari, Inc.'s decision to close and split its assets in 1984.
Given the layers of concrete involved, the excavators have a lot of work ahead of them. Recovering these cartridges – or anything recognizable, really – is going to require a lot more than a roadtrip and some shovels