My Pixelated Education, Pt. 2

My brother Rob's educational computer game of choice was much more well known than mine. Every elementary school kid from the late '80s and early '90s should be familiar with The Oregon Trail. This "pioneering adventure in learning" taught us the realities of life in the 19th century like no Nintendo game could (well, except maybe Duck Hunt). Setting out from Independence, Missouri in the Spring of 1848, it was your mission to lead a wagon of settlers safely to Oregon.

What I Learned: Computer games are infinitely more fun with a strange bearded man and wild raccoon by your side.

Throughout the course of the trail, members of your party had to endure a variety of ailments such as measles, snakebite, exhaustion, cholera, or the most dreaded of all, dysentery. When someone died it became necessary to write a silly and/or mildly profane epitaph on their tombstone for future travelers to read.

What I Learned: If you ever do end up with a disease like cholera or dysentery, just rest a few days and it will go away.

When your food supply started to run low it was time to man up and hunt for sustenance. Out in the untamed frontier there was all manner of wild game to be had, including bison, bear, deer, elk, and rabbit. But really there was no need to bother with the smaller varmints since a single bison netted approximately 1000 pounds of meat. Of course no matter how many able-bodied members of your party were still around, you could never carry more than 100 pounds of food back to your wagon.

What I Learned: The thrill of the hunt. I have never been hunting in real life, but thanks to the game's extremely realistic simulation, I don't need to.

After successfully braving such travails as getting your wagon stuck while attempting to ford a river, bandits making off undetected in broad daylight with 542 pounds of food and 3 wagon axles, or getting sick from drinking water an ox defecated in, you were treated to a fleeting view of the scenic Willamette Valley before being shuffled off to have your final score tallied.

What I Learned: The payoff of a video game is almost never worth the amount of time you have spent conquering it.

Now that you are feeling some Oregon Trail nostalgia of your own, you can play the original game online here. And while you're at it feel free to order me this t-shirt for a future special occasion. I wear XL.


Krissy said...

This Oregon Trail is a different version from the one that I played in middle school. By the time I was in middle school, the graphics were much better. I also don't remember being able to write anything on anybody's headstone. It's a shame they cut out that details when they upgraded. Also, the hunting seemed a little more exciting in the newer version... the animals would run across the screen and you'd have to get them in your sights and shoot them. Plus they looked slightly more realistic.

Dave said...

More realistic? Did you see that bison? It doesn't get more realistic than that.

Kristina Carter said...

This rocks. Cam's impressed that you had the color version.