In much the same way that the Ark of the Covenant was placed into a large government warehouse so that it could not melt any more faces, another dangerous Spielbergian artifact has been placed for safekeeping in the government’s hold. The Associated Press reports that an Atari cartridge for video game/vessel of pure madness E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial has been placed within the Smithsonian, where it can be sure that no one will ever attempt to play it.
The cartridge is one of the hundreds recently unearthed from a New Mexico desert, where officials initially buried unsold copies of the 1982 game, in the same sands as the nation’s other toxic waste. Filmmakers recently dug up the cache of games in hopes of harnessing their kitsch powers for a documentary. It was the first time in history that anyone got their E.T. video game out of a goddamn hole.
Smithsonian specialist Drew Robarge said the cartridge—crinkled like so many others from that landfill, as well as from the collections of early ’80s kids, who took out their frustrations on it with their bikes’ front wheels—will be placed in the museum’s video game history collection. To Robarge, the E.T. game represents the “dark days” of early 1980s gaming, as well as “the challenges of adapting blockbuster movies to video games,” such as not making them utter pieces of shit.
For many, of course, the E.T. game also represents the early-’80s Christmas morning many now-thirtysomethings spent crying in frustration all over their Garanimals. That experience is now permanently enshrined behind the protective walls of the Smithsonian, as an indelible part of American history.