Thursday, October 1, 2009

Video Game Tribute #6: Oregon Trail

I like to think back on a time when one could drown in 4 feet of water or die of a broken leg... I'm, of course, talking about 1848... or more specifically, 1971... but seeing as I wasn't born until the 80's, I'm thinking about 1992 and the infamous Oregon Trail.

I think just about all of us who were in grade school during the early 90's have some form of recollection about this game. It was the one game during "computer" class that all the kids fought over playing... the rest of us were stuck with Number Munchers... ugh. It was probably the last great (if not the ONLY great) educational video game to ever be produced... it was also the last time that Apple Inc. would be a noteworthy presence until 2001. Ah, the Apple IIe... so glorious. One of the reasons Oregon Trail was a playable educational game was probably because it was so inaccurate to the real life Oregon Trail that it was hardly an educational game... hence, fun. Somehow Bankers were better travelers than Farmers and Carpenters... because there were so many places to buy equipment while making this epic trek across the country. So clearly you had to be rich to survive in the wilderness. As I mentioned earlier, broken legs could kill and grown men and women could drown in 4 foot water... was everybody a midget back then? Did people fall face first into water and not know all they have to do is stand up to live? In water that shallow, all they'd have to do is like... roll on their back.

The other important fact about the Oregon Trail which seems to be completely ignored in this game is the cannibalism... um, hello... Donnor Party, anybody? There's some classic history for ya'... but no, we'll just ignore that part, you go ahead and make your fun kids game about the most messed up pilgrimage in American history... If they really wanted to make it educational, every time somebody in your party died, you'd have the option to eat them... but they'd have to be under 100 pounds, because according to the hunting segment of the game, that's as much as you could carry... now that'd be an educational game that would have the kids flocking to their history books... because let's face it, kids love violence.

Despite the fact that Oregon Trail chooses to omit various parts of history, it was still likely to be every kid's first video game experience on something other than a Nintendo or Atari (depending on your generation), and the pinnacle of the Apple IIe era. Not to mention it was fun naming your party members after your friends and watching them all die of Dysentery... I obviously didn't like my friends.

Now loading the wagon,
~ Mark


  1. I loved this game! Played it alot when I was little :P

  2. Hahaha This one made me laugh out loud. I remember playing this game.