In 1983, Atari decided to bury their mistakes along with a lot of cartridges. In 2013, their past will be dug up for the world to see.
The 1980’s were a crazy time for gamers. The arcades had opened up and the home console revolution meant you could play as soon as you got home from school. Unfortunately, before Nintendo struck gold with their moustached plumber, Atari decided to dominate the landscape, which sadly lead to the video game crash of 1984. Partially due to the spectacularly poor sales of E.T, a video game adaptation of the Spielberg film, Atari decided to dump their unsold cartridges in New Mexico.
This week in El Paso, video game company Fuel Industries, were given the all-clear by the city council to excavate the area for their upcoming documentary on the video game crash and the notorious E.T. The dumping ground goes by many names, including the “E.T. Dump” and the “Atari Graveyard” but the area is simply a desert landfill, where Atari needed to empty their entire warehouse. People have stumbled across the area in the past and found copies of E.T. to play or to sell online via eBay, not to mention a recent Atari title even sold for three hundred thousand dollars.
One of the biggest reasons for the warehouse dump was the shift in manufacturing for Atari, who moved their companies cartridge processing from the United States to China. On that fateful day in September, according to newspaper accounts, “14 trucks backed up to the dump and dropped their loads”. An Atari spokespeople told the New Mexico news that it was “mostly broken and returned merchandise — consoles, boxes, and cartridges,” and not new unsold cartridges.
The E.T. game has been notorious online with Let’s Players and retro reviewers complaining about the lack of skill, creativity or juxtaposition to the original film. The game is even the subject for the feature film of independent filmmaker James Rolfe, better known as The Angry Video Game Nerd. Rolfe’s feature film, based on his iconic character, has the Nerd searching for the Atari landfill in hopes to play and destroy the game once and for all.