The tomb of E.T. and the worst failure of an Atari video game

By Matt Smith
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Atari literally buried the project, throwing truckloads of unsold games in a landfill in the desert of New Mexico. And in the midst of a decade of disaster entertainment industry

"E.T." may have had success in film. But as a game, it was a complete failure.

When Atari, a pioneer in the electronics company, was quick to launch a based on the blockbuster Hollywood 1982 for their consoles for the home game, it was a fiasco, compounded by the fact that the nascent industry was suffering its first decline in that time.

So Atari literally buried the project, throwing truckloads of unsold games in a landfill in the desert of New Mexico. And in the midst of a decade of disaster entertainment industry, driven by the movie "Heaven's Gate" Milli Vanilli and the game of "ET" quickly became an urban legend.

"Sure," you say.

No, I'm serious. And during the weekend, compared to a couple hundred spectators, led by the film crew for a documentary excavators began digging a pile of Atari cartridges thirty years of age of a landfill on the outskirts of Alamogordo.

"Urban Legends: CONFIRMED" said Larry Hryb, one of the creators of the Xbox gaming platform for Microsoft, via Twitter from the excavation site. Microsoft Xbox Entertainment Studios is one of the sponsors of the documentary is planned, tentatively titled "Atari: Game Over". Hyrb also tweeted a photo of the first cartridge that was excavated.

One person in charge was Howard Scott Warshaw, the game designer. When the excavators began to recover the first of what could be hundreds of thousands of copies of his failed creation, "all went crazy," Warshaw said.

"I've been wearing this, which in theory is the worst video game of all time for 30 years," he said. "It was a game that was made in five weeks. It was a very short development. Did the best I could, and that's fine."

But seeing cartridges emerge from desert dust was an impression for Warshaw, who is now a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley.

"Something I made 32 years ago still creates joy and excitement in people," he said. "To me, that's something tremendously satisfying."

Atari, a company that designs games yet, but has stopped producing their own platforms, did not respond to a request for comment Sunday. In 1983, struggling under the weight of a failed product and a crushing national recession, the company dumped 14 truckloads of merchandise from a plant in El Paso, Texas, in the Alamogordo landfill, reported the New York Times at the time.

None of the cartridges that were unearthed during the weekend was usable, Warshaw said. But he said there could be up to 750,000 of them in the landfill, with many successful titles mixed with games "ET".

"It was the end of the first life cycle of the product, and no one really knew what they were doing," Warshaw said. Now, manufacturers are designing their systems even while following the new start to be shipped to stores.

"It was a fool's errand, but that was one of the things that made her be an amazing place to work," Warshaw, who has come to accept infamy Game said.

"I do not think it really is one of the worst games ever, but I really like when people identified that way," Warshaw told CNN. And because he also designed one of the best games of Atari, "Yars' Revenge" he said, "I have the best range of any game designer in history."

traslation: Belén Zapata