D is for..............
Can You Dig It?
I love an urban myth / legend and for years the word on the retro gaming street was that after the Video game crash of 1983 Atari were forced to literally dump a ton of video gaming stock as they couldn't even give the stuff away!
Some had thought that this story was great but not necessarily true. At the very least it was a classic story to tell when talking about Atari and the crash of 1983.
The rumurs all centred around the Atari E.T Vdeo Game and how that it was so bad that Atari just needed to dump it as it contributed to the crash.
E.T was seen as the epitome of what went wrong with video games in '83 as the market was over saturated with seemingly rubbish 'shovelware' type games.
Companies were just trying to cash in on the video games boom and flooding the market with poor games.
When the dump story was told it was generally believed that the E.T cartridges were the only thing that was dropped into the landfill site........it turned out that E.T was NOT alone......
After years of speculation and story fabrication a documentary team came along in the hope to tell the story of the crash and the video games burial.
It was prove to prove the legend to be right or wrong....
A place called Alamogordo City (New Mexico - USA) was supposed to be the final resting place for those crimes against video games.
In May 2013 Alamogordo City Commission granted documentary makers, Fuel Industries, access to the site of the landfill to film part of the Atari Game Over documentary and commence an excavation of the site in the first video games archaeological dig ....... ever?
The actual excavation was momentarily halted due to a complaint by the New Mexico Environmental Protection Division as they felt there were potential hazards involved in the undertaking of the excavation that required resolution.
The dig was cleared for GO in April 2014 as the mechanical diggers were allowed to break up the sacred Atari earth in an attempt to bring E.T HOME!
The excavation was an open event to the public and actually started on April 26th 2014.
The public nature of the event meant that there were various people in attendance to witness video games history, these people were:
ET. the Extra-Terrestrial designer Howard Scott Warshaw and director Zak Penn attended the event as part of the documentary about the burial.
Local residents such as a guy called Armando Ortega.
Armando was reportedly one of the original children to raid the dump in 1983 and he said that although he and his friends found dozens of cool games, they actually ended up giving the E.T. cartridges away because they 'sucked!'
James Heller was also present as he was the former Atari manager in charge of the original burial. Heller said that he had originally ordered the site to be covered in concrete!
Heller also confirmed that around 728,000 cartridges were buried rather than the reported 'millions' from other stories that were doing the rounds.
A whole team of Archaeologists were also in position to assist with the excavation and cataloging of the items found.
E.T. and other Atari games were discovered in the early hours of the dig and this was hopefully proof that the Atari burial was fact and not fan made fiction.
Circa 1300 cartridges of the estimated 700.000 were removed from the burial site and as the remaining materials were deeper than expected the dig was halted and the site filled back in.
Apparently this was to be a one off exercise as the town would not likely grant permission to dig up the landfill again. 100s of thousands of Video Games goodies (and baddies) therefore remain locked away forever...........
1,377 games were found during the dig and these included such gems as:
59 Missile Commands
As we know, there's likely to be much more remaining in the Atari Tomb just waiting to be discovered!
Did You Know?
"The documentary companies involved in the dig had to spend around $50,000 just to dig as deep as they did and remove those 1300 video games........"
The documentary was released on November 20th 2014 and is entitled "Atari Game Over"
I've added it to my watch list and i'll tell you what it's like once I get round to watching it.