Throwback Thursdays: You Have Died of Dysentery…Were You On The Oregon Trail?

Right now Cyclops is obsessed with getting me to play World of Warcraft (he has a uphill battle on that one). I think my issue with games like this is that they seem way too complicated and that makes me nostalgic for the early days of computer games where one game was king, that’s right, The Oregon Trail!

Let me paint the picture for you, it’s the 90s and computers are just starting to be a staple in classrooms and schools, and by staple I mean you were lucky if your classroom had a computer otherwise you got to use one for like an hour in the computer lab once a week.

You are like 10 years old and it’s a reward when you have your “computer time” in class and the only thing you wanted to do was cruise down the Oregon Trail which was crazy because it was an educational game, which in theory should be boring.

The Oregon Computer Game_Trail Map

The original game was designed to teach school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding his party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley over the Oregon Trail via a Studebaker Wagon in 1848.

The above description makes it sound pretty boring but everyone was obsessed with this game. First you got to choose your own name, which when you are 10 usually means making it something hilarious like Buttface. In the game you had to traverse thousands of miles crossing rivers, hunting for food and buying supplies in an attempt to make it to your destination but the game did not make it easy. More often than not you would die of some random disease like dysentery or from a horrible accident out on the plains. Who knew dying could be so fun? There was always a groan when you got this message “Buttface has drowned”.

If all computer games were like The Oregon Trail I would totally be more willing to play, it’s educational and fun, because I ask you who doesn’t like to die from a snakebite in the dead of winter?

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