Do you feel like paying a lot of money for a piece of trash that has been buried for decades and only recently unearthed? Did I mention that it’s a piece of historical trash, sort of, depending on your perspective and what you consider important. There’s been a great deal of talk lately about the E.T. Atari cartridges that were thrown in a hole in New Mexico 30 years ago and that were dug up recently. Now, if you’re in the market for such a trinket, you can buy one to call your very own. It probably won’t work, even if you do have the appropriate console, if that’s what you’re looking for, but by all accounts, this is the worst videogame ever made, so you’re probably not missing out on much.
The Tularosa Basin Historical Society in Alamagordo, New Mexico, which organized the dig and owns all of the unearthed cartridges, recently put 99 of them up for auction on eBay. Some of these, which all come with a certificate of authenticity, lest someone pay lots of money for actual garbage, have already reached upwards of $500, which sounds like a lot for a terrible game that you can’t play.
You have until November 13 to bid, though there may be more at a later date. The historical society plans to keep 500 (there are a mix of other games thrown in, like copies Missile Command, Asteroids, and Star Raiders) and give some to other institutions, like the Smithsonian. That leaves more than 750 that they say could be auctioned off at a some point in the future.
E.T. is the game that famously killed Atari and, almost singlehandedly, came very close to driving the entire videogame industry headfirst into the ground. One of the first movie tie-in games, it was a rushed product that the company wanted out by Christmas time, and while it initially sold well, cashing in on the hype of one of the most beloved movies of our generation, it didn’t take long for word to spread and the backlash ensued. Sales basically stopped, and eventually Atari rounded up all the leftover cartridges and literally buried them in a garbage dump in the middle of nowhere.
This incident has become a myth of sorts, an urban legend, part of gamer lore, and this past April, after finally locating the exact site, it was excavated. A Microsoft-backed documentary called Atari: Game Over, was there to capture it for posterity, and it will air on November 20 on the Xbox platform. This is one of the last productions from the software giant’s short-lived Xbox Entertainment Studios, which shuttered its doors recently. The film actually looks like a good time, and should be especially interesting to anyone interested in videogame history, as this is one of the most notorious events that have ever happened to pixelated little dudes running around your TV. Check out the trailer for yourself below.