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NPR recently reported about a game development company called Fuel Industries which has gotten permission from the city council in Alamogordo, NM to excavate the “Atari Dump”. In 1983, saddled with truckloads of unsold Atari game cartridges – Remember the “E.T.” game? No. That’s why they needed a dump. – the company literally solved the problem by burying them in the desert, along with a bunch of broken game consoles. Easy-peasy! Problem solved! Let’s get a beer.

Now Fuel Industries wants to make a documentary about all that. Why? Well…well because THEY BURIED A BUNCH OF VIDEO GAMES IN THE DESERT. WITH PERMISSION. THEN POURED CEMENT ON IT. Does there really need to be more reason than that?

This explains so much. Dubious business practices certainly. Disregard for the environment most definitely. But it also explains how, on a clear summer night when the wind is blowing in the right direction, even hundreds of miles away from New Mexico, I hear the voices. well, not voices exactly. The bleeps and boops and boings of all those great, old video games.

Listen carefully and you’ll hear the Tarzen-esque call of Pitfall Harry leaping on a vine over a pit of maggots. Q*Bert climbing stacks of old tomato soup cans. E.T. phoning home on a Reese’s Pieces wrapper. Pac-Man gobbling pellets of…god knows what.

They’re all out there, whispers in the night; quarters plinking in the slots of midnight. Or something. So the next time you’re immersed in the stunning realism of Call of Duty or the gripping power of Battlefield, just remember that somewhere in the New Mexico desert Donkey Kong and Mario are still battling…over rotten banana peels and dead goldfish.



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