E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Dump Faces Excavation

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Dump Faces Excavation


The legendary burial ground of millions of unsold copies of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 is going to be dug up - if it can be found.

If you have any knowledge of videogame history at all, you'll have at least a peripheral awareness of the infamous "E.T. landfill." Released in 1982 for the Atari 2600, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial - E.T., for simplicity's sake - was a stinker of biblical proportions. Millions of copies went unsold and millions more were returned, back in the day when you could do such a thing, and Atari, so the story goes, dumped them all - as many as 20 truckloads - into a landfill near Alamogordo, New Mexico. The whole thing was then entombed in concrete, and all involved vowed to never speak of it again. (I'm guessing on that last part.)

The burial slowly faded into obscurity and eventually became something of an urban legend, and even the precise location of the dump site was lost, in part because Alamogordo was appalled by the sheer volume of crap being poured into it and put a halt to the practice. But as so often happens, the fading of memory was followed by the growth of curiosity, and earlier this week Alamogordo approved the excavation of the site by a Canadian-based film company, Fuel Industries, which wants to produce a documentary on the "Alamogordo landfill legend."

The challenge of locating the dump site has apparently been met by Joe Lewandowski, who ran a garbage company at the time of the E.T. dump and claims, Commander Adama-like, that he knows where it is. With Lewandowski pointing the way, Fuel Industries has six months to find and dig up the site, a span of time that will cover the 30th anniversary of the burial. And while Alamogordo was less than thrilled with the scale of the event when it happened, it now hopes that some good will come of it. "I hope more people find out about Alamogordo through this opportunity that we have to unearth the Atari games in the landfill," Alamogordo Mayor Susie Galea said.

Even if the excavation is successful, the odds of finding intact E.T. cartridges are extremely slim, as they were all reportedly crushed before being trucked to the dump. And a big part of me hopes that it ends in failure regardless; as exciting as the prospect of discovering such a historically significant location (in videogame nerd terms) may be, there's something romantic about knowing, or at least believing, that somewhere out there in the vast desert are the buried remains of millions of copies of one of the most notorious videogames of all time, a game of such dark portent that it almost killed the videogame industry that now pervades nearly all aspects of our society. It's a good legend, and one of the few that's truly our own - and I'm not sure I want to see it brought to an end.

Source: KQRE [http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/southeast/alamogordo-approves-atari-excavation]


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Lunar Templar

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Sep 20, 2009
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This seems a lot like poking an evil spirit with a stick for fun /nerd forboding

though seriously, if they find it it'd be kinda neat I guess.
 

Deathfish15

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Nov 7, 2006
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I'm hoping that the toxic sewage that was the E.T. game created a giant sink hole down into the mantle below the Earth's crust. In that hole, they finally meet their end. And, from what this film team will find, is nothing but a very deep hole.
 

kajinking

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Aug 12, 2009
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Wow can we get the Mythbusters in on this?

Jamie: "So Adam how are we going to find this supposed dumping ground of bad games?"

Adam: "Truth be told I have no idea, BUT I do know that when we find it we're going blow it up and film it on highspeed"
 

King Kazma

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Apr 25, 2013
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Nothin goods gona come outa that hole. Your just messing with things that were better left buried and forgotten. If I were you boy I'd listen to me and stay away from that place. Some say I'm just a crazy old man. But I know better than them, they don't live round these parts. So just stay away from that landfill site boy, you hear me?!
 

Anathrax

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Jan 14, 2013
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...Of all the words I've gathered, of all the courage I've mustered, of all the great events I've witnessed, there is only one word to this.

...Impossible.
 

Jaeger_CDN

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Aug 9, 2010
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I sadly had the privilege??? of playing this game back in day and if I remember correctly it was horrible.

As for finding the exact location, it actually wouldn't be that hard. The location the dump operator gives you can easily be narrowed down with aerial photography and pin pointed. I do this general sort of thing for my job all the time.

As for digging them up, I'm sure once they do that they'll have to cart them all off to a contamination landfill due to the heavy metals and junk found in cartridges of that age.

Overall, just leave the damn things down there
 

Roxas1359

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Aug 8, 2009
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Evil Smurf said:
Was the game that bad?
Saying it's bad is an insult to the word bad itself. Played it before...never again. >.<

OT: Something tells me that trying to find it will be more trouble than it's worth, plus they probably put some sort of hex on the burial ground or something.
 

newwiseman

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Aug 27, 2010
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It should remain undisturbed for future archeologists to discover after the fall and subsequent rebuilding of society.

Evil Smurf said:
Was the game that bad?
"Go Right" is a more polished game with a better story, and was marketed as "the worst game ever" by Adult Swim if that quantifies how bad ET was in any way.
 

Quiotu

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Mar 7, 2008
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Evil Smurf said:
Was the game that bad?
The consensus is a resounding 'yes', though I didn't mind the game. Then again I was 7 years old, and it was one of the first games I got with the Atari 2600 that Christmas. You could say my tastes can only go up from there.

This is a neat idea, but I'm not sure why anyone would attempt this. It's like trying to find the worst Time Capsule ever.
 

II2

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Mar 13, 2010
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Well, there goes my treatment for a stoner videogame roadtrip movie about the quest of some idiots to find this sacred place.
 

The Artificially Prolonged

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Jul 15, 2008
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Some things are better left buried, the game is cursed I say. Legend has it that Atari had everyone who knew the location of the game killed so they may never tell another soul where they buried it. Now their spirits guard the burial site, made cruel and twisted by the scorn and anguish of gamers past who bought E.T.on release, awaiting to offer the same fate to any fool who comes searching for the games.
 

MrPhyntch

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Nov 4, 2009
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Evil Smurf said:
Was the game that bad?
It was bad in all the ways Superman 64 was bad.

It Had a rushed development time
Based on a well-loved license, while doing that license a huge injustice
Had little to no actual story
Game gave you no sense of direction or accomplishment
Controls were sloppy and hard to use
Aesthetics were terribad, even for the day's standards
Game was incredibly buggy, which when compiled with the above meant it was hard to tell if something was going on was because of a bug or because of actual accomplishment

Add on top of this the notoriety that THIS game was what everyone and their mom was betting on to save the crumbling gaming scene, followed by it failing massively and bankrupting everyone involved (thereby almost ending gaming as it existed), and yeah, it was kinda terrible.
 

Doclector

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Aug 22, 2009
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NO! THE VAULT MUST REMAIN SEALED! YOU KNOW NOT WHAT ANCIENT EVIL YOU MAY UNLEASH!

It's like searching for El Dorado.

Except instead of being filled with gold, it's full of shit.
 

Evil Smurf

Admin of Catoholics Anonymous
Nov 11, 2011
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alfinchkid said:
Evil Smurf said:
Was the game that bad?
It was bad in all the ways Superman 64 was bad.

It Had a rushed development time
Based on a well-loved license, while doing that license a huge injustice
Had little to no actual story
Game gave you no sense of direction or accomplishment
Controls were sloppy and hard to use
Aesthetics were terribad, even for the day's standards
Game was incredibly buggy, which when compiled with the above meant it was hard to tell if something was going on was because of a bug or because of actual accomplishment

Add on top of this the notoriety that THIS game was what everyone and their mom was betting on to save the crumbling gaming scene, followed by it failing massively and bankrupting everyone involved (thereby almost ending gaming as it existed), and yeah, it was kinda terrible.
that sounds awful, why are they digging it up? ROMs of it exist I'm sure.
 

Bobic

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Nov 10, 2009
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Uh, why are they doing this? Serious question, what is to be gained from digging up a bunch of broken old games? What are they going to do with them once they've been dug up? Bury them somewhere else?
 

Frezzato

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Oct 17, 2012
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I find the timing of this scavenger hunt and its proximity to the launch of the next generation of consoles extremely disturbing. E.T. the video game is exactly why the industry crashed all those years ago. The symbolism is the stuff of nightmares.