Game collectors have their story, too. For them, the dig provided the extraordinary opportunity to get to the bottom of the “infamous Atari landfill.” Nostalgia had its role, playing upon the remembrances of 40-somethings hoping to reclaim a restorative piece of a childhood that Atari helped define. Searching for them reversed the expectations of a culture that values the past only if it is old and unique.
Then there is the face of the “Atari Legend,” an Atari 2600 game called E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, which was subjected to merciless production constraints that resulted in its dubious reputation as the “worst game ever.” Many (mistakenly) hail the game as Atari’s death knell—if not the catalyst to the death spiral of the entire North American games industry. The validation of the dumping ground provided them with an authentic grave upon which to dance. The game’s creator, Howard Scott Warshaw, attended the dig, which tempered the cynicism and fed a real sentimentality toward the man, the game, and the game’s alien. For many, finding the games “brought E.T. home.” —The Atlantic.