Lost 'E.T.' Atari Game Found Buried in the Desert, Proving Gamer Lore Conspiracies True

Oftentimes, where conspiracies are concerned — the faking of the moon landing, the UFOs kept in Fort Knox — the story goes that some government agency has staged an elaborate coverup, burying the information in bureaucracy and classified files, never to be found. Now, however, at least one set of true believers have been vindicated, in that their alien carcasses — or, rather, cartridges — have finally come to light: For almost 30 years, a rumor has been circulating among the video-game-inclined that, after the Atari game E.T. the Extraterrestrial came out, it was deemed so irredeemably unplayable that the company's founders decided to bury it rather literally, hiding over 700,000 cartridges under a layer of concrete deep in a New Mexico landfill. In an effort to bust this particular myth, on Saturday, April 26, a team of workers took a bulldozer to the supposed site under the watchful eye of a documentary film crew — and, lo and behold, found a cache of E.T. games, boxes, and booklets beneath the desert.

Aside from the sheer unlikelihood of it all — because, really, what game is that bad — given the excavation-cum-extraterrestrial air of it all, it does make you wonder just what impression our landfill debris is going to give to the inevitable alien visitors (then you tell me where the gold in Fort Knox went) who'll dig through our trash the same way we excavated cave paintings. Phone books are apparently a landfill fixture; will future races assume that we printed our latter-day religious texts on yellow pages, the better to commemorate Joe the Patron Saint of Plumbing? And how many Bratz dolls will it take to convince them that we were a race of noseless bobbleheads with detachable feet? Honestly, if this crew hadn't unearthed all of the E.T. game cartridges, future explorers might have assumed that they were buried safely away in order to preserve our society's most precious Atari technology.

As for our beloved fictional extraterrestrial, the story of his covered-up games will soon be unraveled in a documentary about the search, directed by Zak Penn and developed by Xbox, which is set for release on Xbox consoles later this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The city of Alamogordo will gift 250 of the recovered cartridges to the filmmakers, presumably for further research, but plans are being put in place to sell off the rest — so, if you're curious what could make a game awful enough that the makers felt they needed to literally entomb it, then ready yourself for the eBay bidding war of a lifetime. Alternatively, you could always devote that energy to watching the skies and making your trash presentable — because really now, if a 30-year-old Atari conspiracy turns out to be true, then just about anything is possible.