Archaeology, Xbox, and the Legendary E.T. Video Game


USA Today, among others, recently reported that original TV series to be produced for the new Xbox TV will focus on the story of the E.T. video game for the original Atari videogame console. The game is often considered the worst video game ever released, and according to legend, millions of unsold or returned game cartridges were buried in a landfill in Alamagordo, New Mexico in 1983.

The documentary reportedly will include an excavation of the landfill in an attempt to find the remains of the E.T. game cartridges. Paul Mullins has been on top of this story:

An excavation of the Atari dump does not promise an especially compelling material analysis as much as it plumbs the complexities of memory and dissects the intersection of popular imagination and materiality… It seems unlikely that the recovery of any discarded ET games or Atari gaming systems will radically rewrite our understanding of Atari or the broader industry in the early 1980s, …Yet the process of digging the dump—the literal theater of an excavation—is what Fuel is leveraging when observers invoke the project as “archaeology.”