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Atari landfill: Why the search for E.T. video game?

Atari landfill hunt: A Canadian company will search a New Mexico landfill for copies of the Atari E.T. video game, considered by some to be among the worst video games of all time.

By StaffAssociated Press / June 5, 2013

A wax figure of E.T. from the 1982 Steven Spielberg film, "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," being carried in the basket of a BMX bicycle by a Madame Tussaud's employee in central London. The E.T. video game by Atari is now a collectors item.

(Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)


Alamogordo, N.M.

A New Mexico city commission agreed to allow a Canadian studio to search a landfill where old, terrible Atari games are rumored to be buried.

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Alamogordo commissioners decided last week that they will allow Fuel Industries to search the landfill for games, according to The Alamogordo Daily News . The company has offices in Ontario and Culver City, Cali..

One sought-after cartridge, the E.T. video game, is thought by some to be among the worst video games of all time. Atari paid Steven Spielberg tens of millions of dollars to license the wildly popular 1982 movie's name, and the dud of a game caused the troubled company's worth to sink even further at the time.

The game has since developed a cult following.

The rumored Atari graveyard has long been a fascination of some who consider the commercial flop a part of video game history.

Landfill owner Joe Lewandowski told the Alamogordo Daily News that he was "present at the landfill in September of 1983 to see the first of nine truckloads of the games that were allegedly dumped by one of his competitors. Laws regarding the discarding of garbage and the running of landfills were much more relaxed in the early 1980s.

Twenty one more truckloads of the games are believed to exist, but where they ended up remains a mystery. Thieves purportedly hijacked one of the truck loads and rode it to Mexico, he said."

Alamogordo Commissioner Jason Baldwin says he played the Extra-Terrestrial game and it was horrible. There are listings for the game on eBay that run from under a dollar to more than $30.

Fuel Industries, a multimedia company, has been given six months to search the landfill. The company hopes to document the search.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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