Task: Watch the Documentary “Atari: Game Over”
Needed: Web browser
Time: 1 hour
One of the great stories of Atari was the “rumor” that they buried tons of E.T. cartridges for the 2600 in a desert landfill after the video game crash of 1983. I recall hearing this story and finding it hard to believe. However, in 2014 a group of filmmakers decided to make a documentary about Atari with this story as the centerpiece. They tell the story of getting permission from the town of Alamogordo, New Mexico to excavate the dump where Atari supposedly dumped the excess cartridges. They found the rumored location and started digging. Much to my surprise, they where able to validate the story.
Atari: Game Over was released in November of 2014. It not only tells the story of the Alamogordo dump but gets into the history of how E.T. was made and why it received such a bad reputation as one of the worst video games made for the 2600.
Atari: Game Over is available for free on YouTube.
I watched this a few years ago on TV and really enjoyed it. It is a must see for every Atari fan. It is a bit over dramatic in places but still really fun. I particularly like the interviews with Howard Scott Warshaw who was the talented Atari E.T. programmer. I personally think he got a bad rap. Consider that he also programmed Yars Revenge that was hugely popular. How would you have designed E.T.?
Interestingly, many of the cartridges that were found were put on sale in 2015 generating over $100,000 in sales. These are pretty cool collector’s items for some. You can find them on eBay from time to time for ridiculous sums of money.