If you grew up in the 1980s, you undoubtedly came across the legendary “Oregon Trail” game, most likely on an outdated computer at your school. Despite the hideous graphics and odd storyline, somehow we couldn’t get enough, and it kept us coming back for more.
The Oregon Trail Game
The Oregon Trail was an educational computer game that teaches players about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the trail. It was a computer game created in 1971 by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger.
Players assumed a wagon leader and guided their party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley by wagon in 1848. Along the journey, they must fight with perils like starvation and snake bites, and also decide how much food to take and whether to continue regardless of their oxen’s chances of dying.
Initially the Oregon Trail was not available to the public, rather it was just a university collaboration not really meant to be much more than an internal teaching tool.
However after some thought, this program was initially made accessible to the general public in 1985 at the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium. It was so successful that it was created and released on floppy disks when the format became more widespread in 1985, and his since become a gaming phenomenon.
The Game Was Entertaining
The Oregon Trail was a role-playing game where you guide a wagon train of people through the country to their final destination in Oregon. You needed to keep your team nourished and healthy along the trip by hunting animals for food and obtaining resources like arrows and medicine.
Along with keeping your company nourished and happy, other options needed to be made along The Oregon Trail such as whether to risk trekking through dangerous terrain to reach a sanctuary. These scenarios either ended up with your troop surviving or dying, so you needed to choose wisely!
Traveling In The Oregon Trail Game
Kids like playing the Oregon Trail computer game because it was an adventure across America. The player might be a Boston banker, an Ohio carpenter, or an Illinois farmer.
Before starting their adventure, each profile was given a certain amount of money to spend at the supply shop (the banker has the most, the farmer the least).
Following the player’s departure from Independence, Missouri, several markers along the path required us to make choices, shop for supplies, or rest. No two adventures were ever the same.
Hunting In The Oregon Trail Game
Hunting is how you obtained food that was stored in your reserves in the Oregon Trail game. When you were close enough to a specific animal, select the hunt option and type the word or words that were displayed.
Hunting required both good vision and patience. If you wanted to survive on this journey, hunting needed to be one of your most essential skills.
During the hunting sequence, a new animal corpse would be dropped onto the screen when you strike a deer or a rabbit in the Oregon Trail game. You only had a few seconds to react, you had better make your shot count!
Later versions of the game featured hunting using a mouse-controlled cursor, or using keys to travel across various portions of the screen to hunt deer and rabbits that raced across at different times.
Final Thoughts On Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is an essential element of American history. You now understand why the path was built, who walked it, and what happened to them as they made their journey over this long stretch of land.
Almost everyone who grew up as a kid in the 1980s probably at some point played this game. It was educational and fun, and really was one of the pioneers when it came to computer games, and the possibilities of what that industry could really be.