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13 Video Game Documentaries Every Gamer Should Watch

Atari: Game Over

The Atari video game burial was a mass burial of unsold video game cartridges, consoles, and computers in a New Mexico landfill site, undertaken by American video game and home computer company Atari, Inc. in 1983. The goods buried were believed to be unsold copies of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, one of the biggest commercial failures in video gaming and often cited as one of the worst video games ever released, and the Atari 2600port of Pac-Man, which was commercially successful but critically maligned.

Since the burial was first reported in the press, there have been doubts as to its veracity and scope, leading to a minority considering it an urban legend. However, the event has become a cultural icon and a reminder of the North American video game crash of 1983; it was the end result of a disastrous fiscal year which saw Atari, Inc. sold off by its parent company. Though it was believed that millions of copies of E.T. were disposed of in the landfill, Atari officials later verified the numbers to be around 700,000 cartridges of various titles, including E.T.

In 2014, Fuel Industries, Microsoft, and others worked with the New Mexico government to excavate the site to validate the contents of the landfill as part of a documentary called Atari: Game Over. On April 26, 2014, the excavation revealed discarded games and hardware. Only a small fraction, about 1300 games, were recovered during the excavation period, with a portion given for curation and the rest auctioned to raise money for a museum to commemorate the burial.

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