E.T. Atari landfill unearthed

James / April 26th, 2014

Well it’s a big year for what started as a little urban legend about Atari dumping their shitty games in a landfill. There will be two movies, both to be released this year. One is Microsoft’s documentary, the real life story in which they dig up the games. The other is, of course, my own independent fictional take, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie (more exciting updates to follow in the coming months).


Of course today is the big landfill excavation and everybody and their grandma is contacting me about it. I’ve known about the project for a while, and I’ve been in talks with them. Why I have never posted anything is because I respect the secrecy of any project as much as my own. I was going to be involved at the excavation, but of all dates, it landed on my daughter’s one year birthday, which is my priority.


As I’ve expected, they’ve unearthed the motherload of shit, but think about how many people threw that game in the garbage. I’m sure you can dig up any landfill and find at least a few copies of that game. I bet there’s some in my backyard. But anyway, I guess everyone’s expecting a response from me, or some kind of reaction. Well it’s strangely hilarious. It’s weird. The kind of thing where the planets align by some mysterious stroke of fate. When I first heard about the plansΒ to dig up the games, I was beyond shocked. Imagine if you were making a movie about the search for Nessie, and then all of a sudden, somebody drains Loch Ness. What were the chances?


I remember back in 2007 when I first started writing the AVGN movie, I did a lot of heavy research on the landfill. There was A LOT more information available about it back then, however there was less interest. It was more like a cult thing that only few people knew about. But the few people who were, were obsessed. Over the years, it’s gained more widespread attention. I’ve watched the story grow bigger. And now it’s huge, which oddly enough, makes my “alternate reality” fictional take on the story more timely than ever.


UPDATE: In response to some of the naive comments, the movie is science fiction / adventure. If any of the events that take place in the movie, happen in real life, then God help us!


UPDATE #2: I’ve been getting lots of emails stating that the “MILLIONS” of unsold E.T. carts have still never been found. That’s a good point to bring up, so I guess this blog deserves a revision. I haven’t had time to look into the results of the excavation, so I just listened to all the press and the hype. Seems everyone had the notion that since some E.T. carts were found, it confirmed the legend. End of story. Β But no. What they actually found was a generic Atari dump with all kinds of different Atari games, E.T. being one of them. While, yes they found a few E.T.’s in there, the “myth” has always been that millions of unsold E.T. games were dumped. The generic Atari dumping, and the E.T. overstock were two separate incidents, but have sort of been fused together in peoples’ minds. So unless they found the millions of copies, those are still out there. Or have been destroyed. Or recycled into other games. Or all the game stores dumped them locally. Who knows. So the only thing this recent excavation proves is the generic Atari dumping (from their El Paso plant) is true, which has already been documented in Alamogordo newspapers 30 years ago.Β 



  • April 26, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    It kind of sucks to learn the truth. No more mystery, a book comes to an end. But it does get me more pumped for the AVGN movie. I’m sure it’s popularity will spike once it comes out due to this event, so that’s good news for you!

    • r f

      April 27, 2014 at 5:21 am

      Ruins the mystery for the movie and also they are making a documentary which i think is also damaging for the AVGN movie

      • Charles Harder

        April 27, 2014 at 10:10 pm

        Give it time. He’s been in contact with them throughout the process of excavation and writing the story. Besides, he clearly states that it’s an alternate reality. I think THE CINEPHILE was right in his enthusiasm.

  • Joker83

    April 26, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Can’t wait to see the movie! Been enjoying all your updates πŸ™‚

  • April 26, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    When I first heard about it. I immediately thought about the AVGN movie and wondered if this discovery would effect it in any way. Maybe since these things have been unearthed, the AVGN movie will gain more interest. That’d be pretty cool.

  • Orionsaint

    April 26, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    James, Now that the Atari E.T. games have been discovered at the New Mexico landfill…will this in anyway effect your movie? The ending for example.

    • Tim Harrod

      April 26, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      I suspect the movie is too far along (What with all shooting being completed) to make any changes of substance in the storyline. A big studio could order up a new ending if it was called for, but this is an indie affair.

      • Santa Horse

        April 27, 2014 at 4:37 am

        My guess is there’ll be some sort of post-credits epilogue that acknowledges the new development in some way, but aside from that the film will remain as originally intended.

  • April 26, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    microsoft might as well use the hole to rest in peace in it

  • April 26, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    They surely deserve to make a call home after all those years of imprisonment. You should lend them your dream phone πŸ˜‰

  • Uncle Sporkums

    April 26, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Great piece, James! Indeed! Talk about coincidences! A very Happy Birthday to your daughter from all us fans!

  • bleed0range

    April 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    It will probably help bring attention to your movie, but at the same time, I guess it kind of sucks that it kills the mystery that surrounded the urban legend. πŸ™ If there’s any way you can take advantage of this for the movie though, it’d be cool. Maybe see if you can acquire some landfill ET cartridges and give them away as part of a contest with the releaes of the movie?

    • April 26, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      I don’t know all the facts, but I just kinda feel gutted for James. The whole thing feels like such a dick move. All this time making the AVGN film just for a bunch of people sponsored with a jillion bucks to go an dig it up, before the AVGN film is released :/ Talk about shitting on the little guy, shame on them. I suppose this is offset by the fact James was in talks with them, but still.

      Don’t worry James, we’ve got your back. As far as I’m concerned your version IS the official movie. Day 1 order right here!!! Long live AVGN!!!

  • Thifurious

    April 26, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    When I first heard about this I was immediately concerned about whether or not it’d interfere with the movie at all. I imagine that it might not, due to the alternate reality nature of the movie – as you mentioned. If I had to guess, I’d say that whether or not it effects the movie depends on how you look at it. Since you can’t give away what happens in the movie, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see! πŸ™‚

    Congratulations to you and your family for your daughter’s first birthday. I will never forget the moment you revealed to us in the audience at the trailer event that you guys were expecting. That was something special; I can’t believe it has been this long already. It really says a lot about you when you make family events like this take priority over just about everything. I honestly look up to you because of things like that. Your daughter (and everybody) are really lucky to have you, man. I’m sure you feel the same way too πŸ™‚

  • LicaWolf

    April 26, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Happy birthday to your daughter, James =)

    I really hope this helps to boost the interest in the movie. Maybe even some people will think that you wrote the script this year inspired by this excavation. I also think you should find a way to take advantage of this, maybe include a little bit about the real excavation in the extras of the DVD? sort of a reality vs ficton thing.

  • April 26, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I’ve been reading the articles about the dig up, but I can’t seem to get the details. Did they put a number on how many games they actually found?

  • April 26, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Holy shit the legends are true! Now release the f*&king movie already! Or… at least have a shred of humanity… and figure out a damn release date so I can have some f#*kin piece of mind already! Lol

  • D-Man

    April 26, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    Downsides – takes out some of the mystery of the AVGN movie.
    Upsides – DVD/Blu-Ray combo packs of the AVGN movie and the ET dig documentary.

    No matter what happens, they better damn well acknowledge you with a shit-load-of-fuck of free publicity.

  • April 26, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    am i the only one that doesnt believe this and actually think its all in scene?

    a documentary about trying to find it and end up just diging around in a landfill and finding nothing doesnt make for watching does it.

  • MrCredibility

    April 26, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    They really found the cartridges under there? Amazing! Truly the only game worthy of the AVGN movie is the only game so bad they had to bury the remaining copies of it! Can’t wait to see the AVGN take on this absurd but awesome story!

  • Ren

    April 26, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    I’ve known about the ET landfill since 1995, back then “Next Generation” magazine made a big story about the worst game ever and the landfill bit was there, will try to find that magazine

  • CrushingC10996WM

    April 26, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    I remember seeing the cartridge for sale at RetroCon this past September and being shocked at the sight. The guy said that the burial ground wasn’t true. And now the truth has become clear.

  • Engineer747

    April 26, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Just what your daughter gets on her first birthday: a steaming landfill pile of shit lol

  • April 26, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    I wonder about it the authenticity of the dig. I could go buy a 1000 copies and hide them the night before were their not 3,000,0000 copies in a hazmat area of the dump entombed in concrete? I’m also sure it hurts James film as it would seem redundant. GL James you work hard bro keep it all up

  • April 26, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    James as much as you love your daughter, I feel as though you missing the MS dig was a huge mistake. for one M$ payola, for two, the ET dig is your legacy Your big movie is based on it, and your the Angry Video Game Nerd. Wow, I think your daughter would have understood. Altho I wonder if the NWO douches new it was on her birthday so they tried to initate you buy remvoing you from your loved ones on a day of their specification.

    • Nintendomaniac

      April 28, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      Imagine him trying to explain that to his daughter someday… “Sorry I missed your first birthday, but I had to go watch some people dig up a bunch of shitty games”.

  • April 26, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Could we be opening Pandora’s box by unearthing the lost Atari games nvm
    Got an idea for a sequel to your movie called
    AVGN the movie 2 return of the menace!!!
    Where ljn laughin jokin numnuts company returns in which they take control of all the game companies in order to make a world of shitty games and the nerd and co ain’t gonna take this laying down and fight

  • April 27, 2014 at 1:00 am

    I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that they really did bury all these games in some desert, I mean what the fuck were they going to do with millions of E.T. carts?

  • CineDumbass

    April 27, 2014 at 2:46 am

    Very convenient for them to find something, seems like a money wasting operation to me (WHY Microsoft), would not be surprised if this was a hoax. I would sell all my stocks if a company did such useless stuff with their budget.

  • CineDumbass

    April 27, 2014 at 2:56 am


  • r f

    April 27, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Ouch this totally ruins the mystery for the film …they are also making a documentary which I also think will be damaging for your movie !

  • April 27, 2014 at 5:57 am

    You shouldn’t be shocked, James, it’s no coincidence. Lately more and more people is interested in the ET story BECAUSE of your movie! You’re quite the big internet star, so after you’ve announced the movie plot your fans started talking about that with their friends and the word spread. Even if not that directly, at least you’re the reason why many people started retro-gaming, so if it wasn’t for the AVGN prbably not this many people would be interested in old games.

    It’s like Flappy Bird, that started becoming incredibly popular after Pewdipie played it in his videos.

    • Don Skiver

      April 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      God damn I hate that guy… So much bandwidth wasted on that screaming twat…

  • April 27, 2014 at 6:00 am

    This is obviously a very good news for the AVGN movie.
    All the Titanic documentaries did not diminish the value of James Cameron’s Titanic at all, right?

    • April 27, 2014 at 7:02 am

      You see, the problem is that if you had a movie where Titanic doesn’t sink, the effect of the documentaries could harm your movie indeed.

  • johnpseudo

    April 27, 2014 at 6:13 am

    They’re gonna sell the games as collectors items and use the profit to start up Atari again, produce more Atari 2600 games and finish the Sword Quest Games … bet your ass on it !

  • johnpseudo

    April 27, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Maybe they will also find some Area 51 aliens buried with the games πŸ˜‰

  • April 27, 2014 at 6:54 am

    There’s a very easy way to fix the AVGN movie so it stays in-line with this story. James, just add a line where the nerd says, “We are going to the REAL landfill site.” (Because you know there was more than one.)

  • April 27, 2014 at 6:56 am

    From the words “alternate reality”, I suppose that this ruins the plot of the movie indeed.
    I just hope that it won’t ruin the film for me, like when I see the Twin Towers in pre 9/11 movies set in a future New York setting, it becomes so distracting that I stop buying the movie’s story at that time.

  • April 27, 2014 at 9:10 am

    I’m calling shennanigans. Sounds like a typical effort on the part of establishment media to steal the thunder of someone who embodies independent media excellence.

    I’m a huge fan, James, and (like everyone else here, I’m sure) deeply appreciate the fact that you built something so huge on your own. Gives the little guy hope, you know? I’m going to give Microsoft a spoon, so they can eat my ass.

    • April 27, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      I’m with you, Sr.

    • greedo

      April 27, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      Quite possible, Jake. I remember reading a report on this about 9-10 years ago. He tracked the games to a local landfill. Apparently, Albuquerque city council had been concerned with all of the people that were digging through the cartridges at the landfill, because people were rummaging for free games. So, at the council voted to have the cartridges crushed and buried in a ton of concrete. The guy even spoke to one of the former city councillors to confirm it.

      It seems odd that any of the remaining cartridges would just be left lying around to be picked up. Wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t a viral stunt. Sony has done those before. And MS has done it, too, to a lesser extent. So… we’ll see.

  • Firx

    April 27, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I don’t think this will affect the movie in any negative way, since the reality of the landfill is just not that exciting. James’ upcoming movie, however, IS exciting. In the most dramatic case, this documentary will just drum up a whole lot of press for the AVGN film, and what is that but a good thing?

    Or maybe this is just a red herring by Microsoft, a desperate bid to cover up the mind-fucking cosmic horror that truly lies beneath those mounds of rotting plastic shit.

  • doctorz

    April 27, 2014 at 11:54 am

    First point: You waited too much for releasing your movie..aiming for perfection sometimes is a killer thing.. two years is more than enough to be copied or used for inspiration.. you should have released your trailer or movie summary later or maybe it is possible you directly inspired them to do such a mess.
    Second point: now don’t waste anytime in changing what you have done.. they just are a big spot for your adventures even if fictional ones!! Who cares about buried garbage!! Ok they did it.. but who cares! We all knew!!! As we know that Rob it is not talking and shotting anyone!! So let’s call it a day and use your movie to make some shitty ordinary Delorean fly!! You can be the legend.. they are garbage!!!
    Ps. Stay with your daughter.. don’t listen to the morons.. a birthday is NEVER to MISS!!! Or you won’t get the princess of life!!

  • KT Koskela

    April 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    So there WERE games buried in a landfill!

  • April 27, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Kind of like The Walking Dead comic and 28 Days Later having the same beginning.

  • Solo187

    April 27, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    I feel like it should have been left alone & preserved. Its history. & now along come microsoft & dig it all up & destroy the mystery. Nice1 Gates

  • April 27, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I’m still more interested in the AVGN film then the truth. they’ve taken all the mystery out of it for me.. it’s like if suddenly they found evidence that said with 100% certainty that the Lost City of Atlantis was real… it’s better for it to remain mystery, lie wit the Atari ET land fill thing..

  • iflrores

    April 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    i can’t believe it

  • TheOzto

    April 27, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    It’s grazy, that is all that i can say. It’s would be nice to actually have one of those from the landfill.

  • April 27, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    in light of recent events would you be able to rejig the ending of the movie for comedic effect in any way ????

  • Nintendomaniac

    April 27, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    Turns out there are more than just copies of E.T. in that landfill. They also found Space Invaders, Centipede, and Asteroids.

    I wish they would have waited to do this until after the AVGN movie, as it spoils the mystery. Oh well, I’ve always thought of the NERD character existing in an alternate universe anyway…where random characters like Bugs Bunny, Freddy Krueger, and Spider-Man can suddenly appear in your room, Mike Matei mysteriously doesn’t exist, and a musician who lives behind a couch can be brought back from death with a simple button combination on an NES controller. Clearly the AVGN doesn’t live in our reality.

  • Valis77

    April 27, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    i forgot what video he referenced this in was it the r.o.b. video?

  • Pablo1989

    April 27, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Nokia dead! Atari 2600 games finally founded S…. …. MICROSOFT!

    • December 14, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      They deserved it after all the self claiming ad marketing crap. Millions drained into them and don’t know how to present what’s “new” and good about it.

  • April 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    This is very timely, considering the subject matter of your upcoming film. Good luck, I hope many more will get to see the results of you and your team’s efforts due to these developments.

  • Mike M

    April 28, 2014 at 4:03 am

    Hey folks – I’ve been enjoying Cinemassacre for years now, but FINALLY felt like I had to register n post this message…. I’ve been following the AVGN movie updates and am eager to see the film. After learning about the unearthing and the documentary in the news, I jumped right on here concerned that it would have a negative impact on the film. James I was happy to see that you were in the know wayyyy ahead of time. As for impact on the film, that’s up to everyone that’s reading this. Now that ET is in the news, and all over news sites, people are talking about it. This is a great opportunity to get more people in the know about the AVGN movie. James, MF Mike(not sure who takes care of the website), I’d suggest making a direct link to AVGN the movie, that we can share. I think people that are just now learning about the landfill/documentary should know about the movie that you all have been workin hard on. It would also show(because of all the movie update’s n such) that it’s been in production way before the unearthing, as well as all the work that’s being put into it. And to close out my 1st post, just wanna say, James you get a lot of respect from me for putting family first.

  • David McFarland

    April 28, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Oh look, guess he really should have made the movie quicker.

    Don’t worry though, by the time the movie actually releases sometime in 2020+ everyone will have long forgotten about this excavation.

  • y2j420

    April 28, 2014 at 8:57 am

    It’s sad that Andre, the black nerd guy, is in this…he’s so unfunny and looks like a tool…

    Too bad I gave money to this project…had I known he’d be in it, I would have stopped from donating…

    • itscmillertime

      April 29, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Dude, he’s a minor character..

      • y2j420

        May 4, 2014 at 10:14 am

        Doesn’t change the fact he’s associated with the film…

  • fryguy

    April 28, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    To classify this any less than crushing would be an understatement. This has been an epic disaster from the beginning. #1 the AVGN character does not translate to a full length motion picture. It’s like taking a 5 minute SNL skit and making a full length movie about it. Been done several times all shit even with big budgets. Seen the preview, this movie will be a tedius 90 minutes (and I LOVE the AVGN short skits). #2 taking too long to make the movie. Sure I know it is a limited budget, etc. but there is a shelf life for things such as this. Especially when the short skits have been completely shut down. The momentum has been slowed and thats a problem. #3 and obvious is this discovery. It is crushing, devistating and takes all the mystery out of the legend (the only good quality about this movie gone). We all love James but it doesn’t change the quality of the product. Will we buy it because we like him, yes. Does that make it good, no. Watch the preview again and remove “James” from the equation. You wouldn’t pay 99 cents for it in a walmart discount bin. Any other opinion is just insane or in denial. I feel sorry that it turned out this way. But momentum by definition has to be continued. Taking 3 years to do the movie and stopping the skits was enough. Add this to it and it’s game over. James, get this done and behind you ASAP.

    • itscmillertime

      April 29, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      So Wayne’s world, Office space, Night at the roxbury were all bad movies?

  • fryguy

    April 28, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Adding….get this over, get back to what made you popular and respected – THE SHORT SKITS!

  • greedo

    April 28, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Here’s a vid of the unearthing. Howard Scott Kershaw was present. Must say, the manuals look pretty good, considering they’ve been buried in the desert for all this time:


  • April 29, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Great response James! Most importantly, conglaturation on your little girls first birthday! I’m sure it was better than Bugs Bunny’s Birthday Blowout.

  • May 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    ya this is really good for avgn. sooo many articles are going to mention ”oh yeah by the way, a movie was being made about this at the same time” it was called the angry video game nerd video.” very awesome for you james. and so cool you knew about it before it was discovered!

  • May 4, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    This just pisses me off. Is it a coincidence that some asshole decides to make a documentary right about when that’s the whole fucking plot for your movie? Fuck them. Glad I didn’t get an Xbox One. Go PS4.

    Your movie will still rock James, don’t lose heart, countinue onward and kick ass my brother!

    • y2j420

      May 6, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      You’re a moron…

      • May 6, 2014 at 11:42 pm

        No one cares what you think. Jump off a bridge πŸ™‚

    • y2j420

      May 7, 2014 at 4:18 am

      Same to you numb nuts…

    • Freezepond

      May 14, 2014 at 1:02 am

      The way you wrote that comment made me sure that you use Chrome on a Mac, search with Google and play PS4.

      Anyway, shut up.

  • HomingMissiles

    May 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    I can’t believe people are making a big fuss about the documentary “hurting” James’ film in any shape or form. He’s making a fictional comedy film, for chrissakes, not a documentary. THE TWO FILMS ARE NOT IN THE SAME CATEGORY. If you can no longer enjoy the AVGN movie because “now you’ve been spoiled with the facts”, that’s your call. But it’s a really weird one. That’s like saying that no film ever should try to depict ancient history because we already know everything about it. It’s a complete misunderstanding of what cinema is all about.

    • May 6, 2014 at 11:47 pm

      I’m not so much as saying it will hurt the movie as I’m saying it was a lowball move. Some ass clown is trying to steal some of the thunder from James. Everyone and his mother knew about James movie plot. So the clown says, now my chance to do the documentary! If you can’t see that your stupid. It was disrespectful to the nerd. If anything, they should have made the documentary AFTER James released the movie. If still can’t grasp what I’m talking about, then I’ll be surprised if you can wipe your own ass without assistance…

      • May 7, 2014 at 2:09 pm

        They didn’t find a million carts at this recent dig. Some are convinced there is a second landfill site with the overstock ET carts. It seems the myth is still going anyway.

      • HomingMissiles

        May 16, 2014 at 9:44 pm

        Yes, I understand what you’re talking about, but I wasn’t speaking directly to you so no need to break out the shitty attitude. I wasn’t even addressing the fact that releasing a documentary like that at the same time James releases his film is opportunism, which it is. My comment was in response to a general concern manifested by many people in this comments page that the documentary would somehow hurt our reception of James’ film by “demystifing” it.

      • HomingMissiles

        May 16, 2014 at 9:45 pm

        By the way, the above comment was in response to Biff, not Mike.

  • May 9, 2014 at 1:10 am

    I think I will much more enjoy The Nerd’s fictional fantasy world of the ET Carts. The truth is actually kind of boring.

    • May 14, 2014 at 2:33 am

      Exactly. Even if they dig up the second landfill and find the million carts, it’s still just digging up old trash..

  • likalaruku

    June 19, 2014 at 2:36 am

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all. I’d say that a fan of yours in just the right position of power in just the right job heard about the Atari Landfill from you for the first time & set in motion the plan for a documentary & excavation. The timing & success made for great free advertisement from your movie beyond word of mouth from fans.

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