Video games are everywhere these days – a multibillion-dollar industry that rivals the movie business in terms of earnings. But just a few decades ago, the future of electronic gaming was in serious jeopardy. Atari, the king of the video game hill in the early 1980s, nearly destroyed the industry it helped make relevant with the release of a single title: E.T. Zak Penn’s new documentary Atari: Game Over will look back at how hubris, greed and one really subpar licensed game almost killed video games as a form of entertainment.
Most people will instantly recognize Penn’s film because it was in the news earlier this year when the crew traveled to a New Mexico landfill where millions of unsold copies of E.T. were buried. The dig was a successful one, proving once and for all that one of gaming’s oldest urban legends was indeed true. However, the excavation is just one part of the story – as this new trailer demonstrates.
Penn’s film chronicles the rise and fall of Atari, how programmer Howard Scott Warshaw’s insistence that he could make E.T. in five weeks instead of the standard five months led to the company and industry’s downfall. As a gamer, I love inside stories like this – and Penn’s film looks to have gone all out in terms of finding guys who were there to recount the tale.
Check out the clip below for a truncated history lesson on the darkest days of video gaming, then catch the full version of Atari: Game Over when it releases this fall.
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