Google’s Alien Adventure Doodle Remembers Roswell (and Atari’s E.T.)

Conspiracy theories can be fun, too.

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Leave it to Google to have a bit of fun with the old Roswell aliens canard: Google’s latest Doodle celebrates the 66th anniversary of the so-called Roswell incident, which occurred in early July 1947, involving an airborne object crashing on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. The U.S. government maintains the object was a U.S. military surveillance balloon, but conspiracy theorists have long claimed it was an alien spacecraft, that alien bodies were recovered and whisked away to some mystery lab, and that the government’s been lying to us about the whole affair for decades.

The Doodle commemorates the event (or lack thereof) as an adventure game starring you as one of the little grey, black-eyed bipeds that sprang from someone’s imagination and off into popular culture, where these critters have since appeared in everything from creepy sci-fi movies like Fire in the Sky to horror author Whitley Streiber’s UFO abduction tell-all book, Communion.

And now an official Google Doodle! Did I mention you can actually play this thing? You can, using just your mouse: Click on the screen to pilot an armless alien survivor left and right across a scrolling, parallax 2D screen-scape, collecting miscellaneous objects and using them to interact with stuff like animals, barns, plants and more (gamers who played E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 should notice a whimsical little shout-out along the way, too).

While the Roswell “coverup” and all the junk evidence it spawned have been repeatedly debunked over the years, the event lives on in popular mythology as the most enduring symbol of our fascination with the possibility of extraterrestrial life — that, and fringe obsession with this notion that our government, leaky as a paper bucket, has somehow been hiding the “truth” about what really crashed in Roswell for over half a century.

Note: If you’ve stumbled on this story after the fact, you can find Google’s legacy Doodles collected here.