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iKids Winter 2014

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ikids_Winter 2014 3 Q+A hen Steven Spielberg's E.T. was released in 1983, publisher Atari signed on to make a videogame based on the hit film for its 2600 console. The catch? It only had six weeks to create and launch it. When E.T. The Extra-Terres- trial debuted as one of the first licensed vid- eogames with brand integration, it was also quickly dubbed one of the worst videogames of all time. It was so bad, reports emerged that Atari allegedly collected millions of unsold game cartridges and buried them in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in the middle of the night. The year 1983 brought even more disaster for Atari, as it lost more than US$500 million and was eventually sold off by its parent company Warner Com- munications. Subsequently, the burial story morphed into an urban legend, becoming a symbol of the broader North American videogame industry crash of 1983. Alas, the truth might finally be revealed thanks to California-based cross-platform content creator Fuel Entertainment and its new partnership with Microsoft. In early 2013, Fuel secured the rights to excavate the site, and Microsoft agreed to produce a film about the project that will premiere as the first part of an original digital-themed documentary series launching exclusively on Xbox and Xbox One later this year. (UK-based Lightbox is co-producing, with Avengers scribe Zak Penn on-board to direct.) There's intrigue around the story and what it represents— Xbox's first-ever slate of original shows. Fuel CEO Mike Burns and VP Gerhard Runken open up about the significance of Dumping the Alien: Unearthing the Atari Graveyard (working title). There's cleArly A drAw To The projecT, whAT iniTiAlly ATTrAcTed you To iT? Burns: Growing up as an Atari fanatic, the E.T. landfill site was a quirky story I had B y J e re m y D i c k s o n From the ground up Fuel Entertainment's Mike Burns and Gerhard runken have set out to uncover the truth behind the fabled Atari graveyard in their exclusive Xbox documentary heard when I was a kid. A couple of years ago, when Gerhard and I were at a meeting, we were introduced to someone who used to work at Atari, so I asked this person where the cartridges might be buried. He said he had an idea, but wouldn't tell us unless we bought him some drinks. It took about 14 months to track him down again, and we beat out some other broadcasters by about a week. We discovered the burial site was in Alamogordo, so we did a lot of research and flew down there several times. We visited the site and met with the town council, the mayor and some people who were there when the cartridges were allegedly buried. We secured the rights to film the dig, not knowing 100% what we would find. when will The excAvATion BeGin? Runken: Ideally, we'd like to begin in late Feb- ruary and we'll probably dig for a week to 10 days. There is a lot of red tape to get through, w Mike Burns Gerhard Runken

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