Punk Archaeology and Excavating Video Games in New Mexico

Last week in New Mexico, thousands of Atari “E.T. – the Extraterrestrial” video games were found. Rumor is that thousands of these unused video game cartridges, thought to be the worst video game ever, were dumped in a landfill in 1983 and covered with a layer of concrete. The lead archaeologist for the recovery was archaeologist Andrew Reinhard (a self-defined “Punk Archaeologist”) who at night is “… a gamer interested in the intersection of archaeology and video games”. Being able to do an archaeological dig on video games in the real world was a “grail-quest” for him. He defines Punk Archaeology as a few things: 1) archaeology that focuses on the history and places affiliated with Punk music and culture, 2) as archaeologists, you apply the Punk’s “do-it-yourself” attitude to your work, and 3) focuses on history that other archaeologists either ignore or take little notice of.

I have heard about the fields of Medical Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology, Economic Anthropology, etc., but never Punk Anthropology. Being able to do “fieldwork” like Reinhard does (“doing archaeology within the world of a game, and studying the reception of archaeology and archaeologists in games and by gaming communities”) gives me hope for picking a topic with my Anthropology major.