One of the longest lived Urban Legends of the gaming community has just been proven … true.
On September 28, 1983, the New York Times ran a story that Atari had dumped 14 truckloads of video games into a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Having lost millions of dollars that quarter on a game based on “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”, Atari took this step to avoid further depressing prices with excess game inventory.
For the past 30 years, the legend of the game-dump has gained myth status, and has been part of many explanations of the 1980 era transformation of the video game industry ever since. When no one discovered them, some considered it merely urban legend. Even some Atari employees from that time including Howard Scott Warshaw, the rushed programmer in charge of getting E.T. shipped in just 6 weeks (games took 6 months or more to make in the early 80s), have denied it ever happened in the first place.
Last year, the Alamagordo city council voted to allow a production company to dig up the landfill as part of a documentary about the history of the video game industry.
Directing the film is Avengers and X-Men 2 writer, Zak Penn. The myth of the buried games was still in question just before the dig began; Zak Penn told IGN, “Other than garbage and the truth, I have no idea what we’ll find. I think that’s what’s exciting, we won’t know exactly what’s down there until they start digging.”
The crew just unearthed copies of the missing Atari games, and say that many more are still there.
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