Video game found in trash going to Smithsonian At left, workers sift through trash in search for decades-old Atari 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' game cartridges in Alamogordo, New Mexico (AP photos)
Video game found in trash going to Smithsonian
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One of the "E.T." Atari game cartridges unearthed this year from a heap of garbage buried in the New Mexico desert has been added to the video game history collection at the Smithsonian.

Museum specialist Drew Robarge made the announcement in a blog post. He included a photograph of the crinkled cartridge along with the official serial number assigned to the game by the city of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The game was one of hundreds recovered at the city's landfill last spring as a team of documentary filmmakers investigated a decades-old urban legend that centered on Atari secretly dumping the cartridges. The "E.T." game had the reputation of being the worst game ever, and it contributed to the demise of the company.

Robarge said the Smithsonian has some amazing artifacts that represent big moments in video game history, including Ralph Baer's "Brown Box" prototype for the first video game console and a Pong arcade cabinet. However, missing was something that represented what he called "the darkest days" of the early 1980s when the U.S. video game industry crashed.

He describes the "E.T." cartridge as a defining artifact, saying it tells a story about the challenges of adapting blockbuster movies to video games and the end of an era in video game manufacturing.

"All of these possible interpretations make for a rich and complicated object," he said. "As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure."

Members of the film crew that sparked the dig at the Alamogordo landfill said they were excited to get the call from the museum.

"Just saying the name Smithsonian resonates throughout the world. And to be part this dig and an iconic museum like the Smithsonian with something that we created and researched and actually had come to fruition is pretty amazing," said Gerhard Runken of Fuel Entertainment.

The documentary debuted on Xbox last month, but it's too soon to say when the "E.T." cartridge might go on display or be worked into an exhibit at the Smithsonian. The museum also has hard hats and a vest from the historic dig.

Critical thinking challenge: How could a worst game ever lead to the demise of Atari?

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COMMENTS (32)
  • joshh-Lam
    1/14/2015 - 05:37 p.m.

    Worst game ever created. Literally, it's one of the worst games ever created, so they buried a lot of copies of the game in New Mexico.

  • BenB10
    1/15/2015 - 12:58 p.m.

    One of Atari's biggest mistakes the game made from the movie "E.T." 100's rumored to of been dumped in one of New Mexico's dumps recovered and were put in the Smithsonian. This game is said to be the worst game ever and even led to Atari's down fall. Why is this game so bad, why did it lead to there down fall, we may never know unless one is found intact. This may be one of the strangest mystery's to the gaming world, it will be on display eventually in this Smithsonian, but when is unknown.

  • Brexa
    1/15/2015 - 01:51 p.m.

    The company the designed the worst game ever would probably be permanently marked as such, and so when customers look to get a game, they would probably look for games that are made by more beloved companies.

  • Kandie_Kane_299
    1/15/2015 - 01:56 p.m.

    If the game was really bad, then they would assume that other Atari games are bad, so they would stop buying their products, witch would make them go bankrupt, which could ruin the company.

  • alexcl-Lam
    1/15/2015 - 03:39 p.m.

    One way to tell that this is the worst game is because they found the game in the trash. Personally, I've never played this game but I would want to but not after everyone says it's bad.

  • carsonl-Orv
    1/15/2015 - 06:27 p.m.

    I played this game once at my uncles and there is a reason why it is in a landfill. The game was really bad. Luckily after e.t. was made Nintendo started to make sure games were worthy of there system.

  • BrigitteA-3
    1/15/2015 - 08:06 p.m.

    Recently, an old artificat of a "E.T." video game has been recovered form a New Mexico landfill. This game has the reputation of being the worst videogame evr made, but to Smithsonian, the find is astonishing. It is the first game made with a video game console. This find portrays the phrase of "one man's trash is another man's treasure." I think that it is cool that they managed to find this game even though it had been sitting in a landfill for years.

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    1/16/2015 - 08:10 a.m.

    This was likely quite a change of scenery, going from a literal trash dump to holding a prestigious place in the Smithsonian. If this game could talk, it would likely have one interesting story.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    1/16/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    I don't know why anybody would even throw this away especially because it's so old and they could get money from selling it or something. It does tell confirm the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure".

  • jacobr-Bab
    1/16/2015 - 01:47 p.m.

    I think that the video game they found is the garbage dump is a piece of trash E.T. was the most stupidest game ever invented in the gaming world but i guess that the E.T. game know is very old.

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