The Smithsonian Voluntarily Added One Of The New Mexico Atari ‘E.T.’ Cartridges To Its Collection

12.16.14 4 years ago
smithsonian voluntarily takes atari et game from new mexico

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First, the urban legend of an Atari video game graveyard was confirmed. Then, people with little intelligence, no self-respect, and a sh*t-ton of money bid on the recovered games left and right. One guy even paid over $1,500 for an irreparably damaged cartridge of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, even though had been established how terrible it was.

Never fear, for whenever the Internet taketh away from your optimism, it will taketh even more away until all that remains is the pessimistic shell of a former person. At least, that’s how I feel after learning the Smithsonian Institute voluntarily accepted one of the E.T. cartridges for its video game history collection. From the AP:

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.

[Drew 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.

Robarge wrote a blog for the Smithsonian’s website announcing the acquisition. The institute then promoted the news on its Twitter account:

So amazing. Such desert. Much ’80s. Then again, that is why the game (and its countless unsold copies) was buried in the first place. Though I didn’t even know the Smithsonian had a video game history collection, so at least I learned something new today.

Even so, my insides are still violently churning at the realization of what happened today. Something that sucked was dealt with in the most human way possible, but subsequent generations just couldn’t let things lie as they were. The hipsters had to go and dig up the dirty laundry.

This seems to be happening with a lot of Steven Spielberg properties lately. The Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park franchises have already seen their own ups and downs, now E.T. is getting a revisit. What’s next, Schindler’s List for the Oculus Rift?

(Source: AP via A.V. Club)

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