I bought my first computer in 1982 for $1500. It was an Atari 400. Like countless others at the time, I would have bought just about anything with an Atari logo on it. So it was a bit of a shock when we all looked up one day and found Atari gone.Atari:Game Over tells the story of the death of Atari and the burial of what many have called the worst video game of all time, ET. This documentary looks like someone’s college project shot with a cell phone. But then, it is an Xbox production, so maybe it was shot using cell phones.
Back in the 1980s I read a lot of computer magazines. Titles like Compute and BYTE featured all the news about processors and interviews with mega nerds of the day. I remember, even then, thinking that Game Programers were a lot of assholes. The articles I recall had hyper stylized portraits and interviews where every game designer talked about how they were so much better than any other game designer. EVER. This game is so much better than that game.
So what do we find in Atari:Game Over? A game designer who sits down and smugly announces that he was the only game designer who had nothing but million sellers. Yeah, he was that good. Well, he did write ET, but nobody’s perfect.
The bulk of the story is about Atari getting rid of it’s left over inventory by putting it in a landfill in New Mexico. Which is kind of an odd idea, but then, what does Xbox do with it’s duds? I had never heard the story of ET killing Atari, I just knew it was gone. It seems a lot of other people had heard the story and several of them make a pilgrimage to Alamogordo to see the old game cartridges dug up. The term Get A Life springs to mind here.
One of the odd little bits in Atari:Game Over sees some random fellow borrowing George R.R. Martin’s DeLorean. Or maybe it was the other way around, I really wasn’t paying that much attention. George was the only person in this little film that I recognized. He was in it for all of ten seconds.
This was an odd little film covering an odd little event. I saw it on one of its recent replays on Showtime.