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New Mexico city working on plan to divvy up Atari video games dug up from old landfill

FILE - In this April 26, 2014 file photo, an E.T. doll is seen while construction workers prepare to dig into a landfill in Alamogordo, N.M., Producers of a documentary dug in an southeastern New Mexico landfill in search of millions of cartridges of the Atari 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' game that has been called the worst game in the history of video gaming and were buried there in 1983. Officials in Alamogordo, are working on a plan under which film companies, museums and the public could get Atari video games that were dug up from the old landfill last month. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca)

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FILE - In this April 26, 2014 file photo, an E.T. doll is seen while construction workers prepare to dig into a landfill in Alamogordo, N.M., Producers of a documentary dug in an southeastern New Mexico landfill in search of millions of cartridges of the Atari 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial' game that has been called the worst game in the history of video gaming and were buried there in 1983. Officials in Alamogordo, are working on a plan under which film companies, museums and the public could get Atari video games that were dug up from the old landfill last month. (AP Photo/Juan Carlos Llorca)

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. - Officials in southeastern New Mexico began work on a plan this week to divide a cache of Atari video games dug up from an old landfill last month.

An E.T. doll is seen while construction workers prepare to dig into a landfill in Alamogordo, N.M.. Producers of a documentary dug in the landfill in search of millions of cartridges of the Atari E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial game that has been called the worst game in the history of videogaming.

Enlarge Image

An E.T. doll is seen while construction workers prepare to dig into a landfill in Alamogordo, N.M.. Producers of a documentary dug in the landfill in search of millions of cartridges of the Atari E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial game that has been called the worst game in the history of videogaming. (JUAN CARLOS LLORCA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Joe Lewandowski, a consultant for the film companies that documented the dig, issued a draft of a distribution plan to Alamogordo city officials on Tuesday.

Lewandowski said that some of the games should be given to the filmmakers, museums and the public, the Alamogordo Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/1izntyG).

"They're considered to have value because they're part of the legend," Lewandowski told The Associated Press on Friday. "It's a piece of history."

City documents show that Atari consoles and more than 1,300 games were found, including "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial." Some of the other discovered titles include "Centipedes," ''Warlords" and "Asteroids," the newspaper reported.

LightBox Entertainment and Fuel Entertainment pursued the dig for a documentary that Microsoft will distribute later this year. Lewandowski said both companies should get 52 cartridges from the 14 game titles.

"I think that would be a good gesture," he said. "The publicity we are getting from this, Microsoft is the one funding this. It is not a small-time operation."

Reports that truckloads of what some say was the worst video game ever made were buried in the landfill have been urban legend since the early '80s. The "E.T." game's poor reception was seen as a factor in Atari's demise.

After months of planning with state and local regulators, crews discovered numerous game cartridges on April 26. The dig cost more than $50,000, Lewandowski said.

The Smithsonian Institution and state and local museums have already expressed interest about acquiring some games, according to Lewandowski.

Chris Orwoll, division director at the New Mexico Museum of Space History, said the museum was ready to offer curating services.

"The museum obviously would like some small portion of this to put on display," Orwoll said.

The draft plan also calls for hundreds of cartridges to be available for public sale.

Lewandowski, who became manager of the 300-acre landfill a few months after the cartridge dump, said he had no idea how much each cartridge was worth. He said claims on eBay and other websites offering cartridges from the dig are bogus.

Each cartridge from the dig will have a "city property ID tag, a certificate of authenticity signed by the city. You'll know it's one of the originals," he said.

The games, which were enough to fill 62 boxes, are literally being kept under lock and key. According to Lewandowski, the city has them in a steel vault and has changed the locks to the building.

"If we run out, there are 790,000 more in that hole out there now that we know where they are at," he said.

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Information from: Alamogordo Daily News, http://www.alamogordonews.com

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