Treasure hunt for long-buried ‘E.T.’ video games to begin in New Mexico

BY Justin Scuiletti  March 21, 2014 at 3:52 PM EST
Companies hope to excavate copies of "E.T." the video game that are rumored to have been buried in New Mexico for over three decades. Photo by Flickr user Erik Abderhalden

Companies hope to excavate copies of “E.T.” the video game that are rumored to have been buried in New Mexico for over three decades. Photo by Flickr user Erik Abderhalden

E.T. may have phoned home in the hit 1982 feature film, but the mass-produced 1982 video game of the same name had trouble finding enough homes to play it.

In fact, so many cartridges went unsold or returned that a rumor started claiming that game-maker Atari had extra inventory of the “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” game buried in a city landfill located in Alamogordo, New Mexico. A planned dig now hopes to uncover the games, if they exist, and along the way take a look at the product that many believe contributed to Atari’s fall from the top of the then-burgeoning video game industry.

Companies Fuel Entertainment and LightBox Interactive — after receiving permission to dig in May 2013 — faced initial roadblocks from the New Mexico Environmental Department, which seeked a revised waste excavation plan. The companies, however, say plans haven’t been halted and they hope to start searching the 100-acre area within four to six weeks — and they hope to turn it into a documentary.

“We thought this has got a really neat story to it. Why don’t we do some digging?” Mike Burns of Fuel Entertainment told The Guardian. “This almost killed Atari: it was a major pop culture shift, and it could have really impacted how gaming turned out long-term. It’s a critical turning point.”