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For 30 years, there existed a legend about a treasure trove of Atari games and hardware buried in a landfill and forgotten. In 2014, legend proved to be fact during the excavation of the Alamogordo landfill in New Mexico.

The games had been discarded due to the North American video game crash of 1983. Atari posted a quarterly loss of $300 million, closed their Texas plant, laid off 1700 people, and dumped truckloads of merchandise into the landfill to be forgotten.

A major player of this collapse was one of the most well-known game failures ever, E.T., based on the popular 1982 movie. The gameplay was almost impossible, leading players to get stuck in inescapable pits on a regular basis. Now considered a collectible, hundreds of copies of E.T. were discovered in the landfill. Also found were classics including Raiders of the Lost Ark, Pele’s Soccer, Space Invaders, Centipede, Star Raiders, Warlords, and Pac-Man.

While the current inventory is likely only a small portion of the buried landfill treasure, some of the items are already going up for auction. Over 100 games have been listed so far under the title, “Atari Dig Games.” The games are being sold by the City of Alamogordo and the proceeds will go to fund city projects. At the time of writing, there were at least 800 more games being considered for auction.


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