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RIP Ralph Baer (1922-2014)
By KevinS
Posted on 12/07/14
RIP Ralph Baer (1922-2014) I really, really hate writing obits. I really do. But I take it as a personal honor to be able to say good things about the men and women I respect, whether in this industry or just in my life, and Ralph Baer is the reason all of this exists in the first...

E.T. Died for Our Sins And Microsoft Dug Him Back Up

Posted on Wednesday, April 30 @ 16:00:00 Eastern by

Sometime over the weekend Microsoft and a documentary film crew went out to a landfill in New Mexico in order to dig up the long-rumored stash of Atari games and merchandise that the manufacturer buried after the industry crash in 1983. Why they did this, I'll never know

What ever happened to mystery? I was satisfied skateboarding into Roswell in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and seeing the alien laid out on a table. "Welp, aliens exist. No reason to deny it now. Tony Hawk says it's true."

Microsoft and dozens of fans and enthusiasts were in New Mexico looking for the fabled crate of E.T. for the Atari 2600, a game so bad that they buried it, a game so bad they decided that instead of recycling the plastic and paper they should just let the Earth do its job and slowly digest what amounted to dog crap in the eyes of someone not looking at a landfill but at a spreadsheet.

Chris Kohler of Wired was on the scene:

Microsoft picked up the project under its recent initiative to create original video content for Xbox and tapped Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk) to direct the film. Titled Atari: Game Over, the documentary about Atari’s precipitous crash in 1983 is slated for release via the Xbox 360 and Xbox One game consoles’ video services later this year.

The landfill had not been used since the late 80s and looked like nothing more than a patch of desert behind a McDonald’s. A Caterpillar backhoe was poised over the spot that the team, after painstaking research, believed to be the precise location where Atari had dumped the games. A line of dump trucks stretched away from the site.

Bottom line a bunch of folks thought Atari's dirty laundry could be their payday, including author Ernest Cline whose book Ready Player One got handed out like trick-or-treat goodies because nerds and a chance to be king of the nerds existed in the desert.

I wouldn't go so far as calling this whole ordeal sad, but I would claim it more than a little wasteful. You know who can't wait to ignore the full documentary when it eventually arrives on Xbox Live? Me and millions of other gamers who just don't give a shit.

I wonder what was spent getting people to the dig site, how much the dump trucks cost to rent and drive to another landfill where non-Atari paraphernalia could get reburied. I wonder how many construction workers shook their heads at the display of apparent pride a bunch of pasty guys had in discovering "that thing that people threw away 30 years ago was still in the dump."

E.T. and the tale of its demise were urban legends for most modern gamers and now it's just another factoid film Bing will incorrectly guide you to should you try to search for anything on Xbox One with your voice. I wanted the football game, stupid Xbox.

Thankfully some part of that legend lives on in a denial center of the gamer hivemind. Apparently folks online believe Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb's hard hat to have been photoshopped onto his head and others were banned from forums for suggesting that Microsoft replace what they dug up with Xbox One consoles.

Further, some Atari faithful believe the all-powerful Microsoft corporation had faked the dig and that the games shouldn't have survived that long in the ground. I like that. It replaces an old, tired gaming myth with a new one based on the kind of greed and desperation for attention on display in this whole ordeal.

Even as Microsoft's next-generation games console holds firm with shooters, the odd downloadable, and another packed-in camera, the company feels the need to be so look-at-me look-at-me that they've shit on another firm completely outside of their competitive space. Was Atari a threat? Did you really need to mock them and squander the one reoccurring topic of lively debate in Atari fan forums?

The answer is no. Microsoft didn't need to know the truth of E.T. or the New Mexico landfill that housed our little alien friend. Neither did we.
Related Games:   E.T. The Green Planet
Tags:   Microsoft
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