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Sunday, April 5, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Landfill-rescued video games sell for $37,000

Film director Zak Penn shows a box of a decades-old Atari “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” game found in a dumpsite in Alamogordo, N.M., in April. (Associated Press)
Film director Zak Penn shows a box of a decades-old Atari “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” game found in a dumpsite in Alamogordo, N.M., in April. (Associated Press)
Associated Press

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. – What some have called the worst video game ever made has fetched thousands of dollars for a New Mexico city.

An old “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” game cartridge drew the highest bid among 100 Atari games auctioned on eBay by Alamogordo officials.

The games were part of a cache of some 800 Atari video games buried more than 30 years ago in a landfill and dug up in April.

Joe Lewandowski, a consultant for the film companies that documented the dig, said the online auction, which ended Thursday, generated $37,000.

“It’s really gratifying to see that happening because again to everybody it was a bunch of garbage in the landfill. You’re kind of nutty to go dig it up,” Lewandowski told KRQE-TV.

The “E.T.” game, still in its original box, sold for $1,537 to a buyer in Canada. The interest in the games has gone global. According to Lewandowski, online bidders from other countries including Germany and Sweden snapped up items. Earlier this month, a museum in Rome opened an exhibit on the dig that includes dirt from the landfill.

Reports that truckloads of the game were buried in the landfill have been urban legend since the early ’80s. The “E.T.” game’s poor reception when it came out in 1982 was seen as a factor in Atari’s demise.

City documents show that Atari consoles and more than 1,300 games were found, including “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” Some of the other discovered titles include “Centipede,” “Warlords” and “Asteroids.”

After months of planning with state and local regulators, crews discovered numerous game cartridges on April 26. The dig cost more than $50,000, Lewandowski said.

LightBox Entertainment and Fuel Entertainment pursued the dig for a documentary that is due to come out Thursday.

Alamogordo owns the cartridges because they came from the city’s landfill. The revenue will go to the city and the Tularosa Basin Historical Society. Both groups will meet Dec. 1 to discuss how to spend the money.

The remaining game cartridges will be sold on eBay over the next few weeks.

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