Our 80s Obsession With The Oregon Trail Game

If you grew up in the 1980s, you undoubtedly came across the legendary “Oregon Trail” game, most likely on an outdated computer at your school.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.

Oregon trail game
Oregon Trail Game (Original)

The Oregon Trail is an educational computer game that teaches players about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the trail. It is a computer game created in 1971 by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger.

Players assume a wagon leader 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 decide how much food to take and whether to continue regardless of their oxen’s chances of dying.

Players Often Faced Sickness And Peril Along The Trail

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—provided updates between 1991 and 2001 for many versions.

The game was entertaining

The Oregon Trail is a role-playing game where you guide a wagon train of people through the country to their objective. You’ll need to keep your team nourished and healthy along the trip by hunting animals for food and obtaining resources like arrows or medicine.

oregon trail dysentery

Along with keeping your company nourished and happy, other options are to be made along The Oregon Trail, such as whether to risk trekking through dangerous terrain to reach a sanctuary.


Kids like playing the Oregon Trail computer game. The player might be a Boston banker, an Ohio carpenter, or an Illinois farmer. Before starting their adventure, each profile is 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 require us to make choices, shop for supplies, or rest. No two adventures were ever the same.


Hunting is how you obtain food that is stored in your reserves. When you’re close enough to a specific animal, select the hunt option and type the word or words that are displayed. Hunting requires both good vision and patience. If you want to survive on this journey, hunting will be one of your most essential skills.

Hunting For Food In Oregon Trail

A new animal corpse is dropped onto the screen when you strike a deer or a rabbit in the Oregon Trail game. There was just one shot in each place where you may fire. 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; thus, the timing was critical to strike them.


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.

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