Video game found in trash going to Smithsonian
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
Lexile: 1260L

Assign to Google Classroom

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?

Source URL:

Assigned 24 times

  • Damikus123
    1/20/2015 - 01:25 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.

  • codysc-Wal
    1/20/2015 - 02:14 p.m.

    In some ways you might understand why this game is going to the Smithsonian. It is a piece of history and a big part as to why the Atari failed just two years after this games release. At the same time why put a game that was an utter failure in one of the best museums in the world.

  • LewisH-Tan
    1/21/2015 - 09:02 a.m.

    I like that they are putting this into the Smithsonian. Knowing that they are keeping records of all these games makes me think that it will be fun looking back at the old games. I think that its cool that they are finding these old games in landfills. I wonder what else people can find lying around.

  • TreyvaunT
    1/21/2015 - 09:06 a.m.

    I remember a long while ago on the news it was talking about an Atari game they were trying to find. I never thought that they would of been able to find it, but I guess they did.

  • JS2001basketball
    1/22/2015 - 08:47 a.m.

    This E.T game led to the demise of the company because the game was so bad that costumers led to think that the company would produce more terrible games that were blockbuster movies

  • 3JonaHH
    1/23/2015 - 10:37 a.m.

    i wish i could still play all of these games but i dont have a nintendo game system anymore. Atari was one of my dads favorite games to play

  • AlvaroR-Kan
    1/23/2015 - 03:07 p.m.

    The E.T game from Atari was called the worst game ever because consumers were not interested on purchasing a video game that was just like any other game in the 80s

  • vincet-Koc
    1/26/2015 - 02:17 a.m.

    I stumbled upon an article prior to actually reading this article. they said that this game was the worst game that the world has ever seen, production and ratings, the game was so bad they took it off the shelves, burned it and buried it.

  • AllisonLogan1
    1/27/2015 - 06:57 p.m.

    A classic game that was rediscovered in some trash! That's amazing when a classic game such as E.T. was found just by a city landfill. The bad thing is that this game was in the dump, and was crinkled up and looked not its best. The interesting thing is that someone just threw out a game that is worth so much more!

  • BattistaTroy-DiB
    2/20/2015 - 11:39 a.m.

    Hey i played this game! it was pretty much Having to find parts of a phone. the game was really glitchy and crashed a lot.

Take the Quiz Leave a comment