The ET game for Atari is legendarily the worst video game ever made, and also sometimes blamed as the game that burst the original video game bubble. Supposedly Atari was left with millions of unsold copies of the game and they buried them in a landfill in New Mexico. It's one of the great video game foundation myths, sort of the Great Flood of gamer culture. A righteous backhoe cleared away all this Atari debris, and what rose in the aftermath was stronger and better.
Did Atari really bury all those cartridges? I mean, maybe. Who cares? I think the 'buried' aspect gets people's imaginations going, like they're treasure, but they're just trash - all your trash that goes to a landfill gets buried. That's how landfills work. It's why they're called landfills. But this particular landfill has captured the imagination of a generation who read about this piece of trivia incessantly on blogs for the last decade, and so some production company has decided to dig up the landfill and make a documentary about it.
Yeah, I don't know.
The big up side is that if you get to New Mexico you can stand right there in the garbage dump while excavators dig up thirty-five year old game cartridges that, in all likelihood, remain playable thanks to the eternal nature of their plastic shells and the dry weather in New Mexico. There will be archeologists and one of the game's designers on hand to watch the garbage get unearthed. That's gotta be weird, right? Like the guy who filled the Hindenberg with helium coming to visit the wreckage.
One note: Zak Penn will be directing the documentary. Penn's most interesting work is Incident At Loch Ness, a very nice mockumentary that has Werner Herzog searching for the Loch Ness Monster and running into real trouble. Maybe this whole thing is a stunt for another mockumentary?
If you'd like to spend a day in a trash yard, here's the information:
Saturday, April 26, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
4276 Highway 54 S
Alamogordo, NM 88310
(Near First Street and White Sands Boulevard)