Guys…just…what was this game? Really. Why did we play it? It’s…I…I can’t even.
Okay, so I’ll be upfront and honest: There was a period of time where I LOVED Oregon Trail. Looking back, I have no real idea why. I will attempt to figure it out below.
The Oregon Trail was a computer game based on—what else—the actual Oregon Trail. If I remember correctly, we actually played it at school a few times, as a sort of learning tool (the fact that I then played it recreationally is making less and less sense). At the beginning of the game, you visited the store to buy things for your long, hard trek across the country, such as blankets, clothes, food, guns and ammunition (ammunition? Maybe that has something to do with it…). Truly riveting.
You would then decide how much of each group of supplies (food, clothes, ammo, etc.) to bring with you, and when to leave. It didn’t really matter when you left; you would always hit winter at some point, which is when you usually fell through the ice attempting to cross a river, or most of your party froze to death and you held a funeral for them.
Actually, it was pretty morbid for a children’s game.
Once you decided when to leave, you would…cross the Oregon Trail with your party, with such exciting events such as fording rivers, treating disease, um…dying… (come on, everyone remembers “You have just died of dysentery.”) and hunting.
I think I just remembered why this game was popular.
So, you got to go hunting—that was, after all, how you fed your party. You could hunt bison, squirrel, rabbits, deer, and elk, just to name a few. And as monotonous as the other aspects of the game could be, most kids enjoy a good ol’ shooting game.
The Oregon Trail was a lot of reading and not a lot of action (shooting aside). And lo and behold, if you felt that you were doing too much reading and wanted to do some writing instead, you could keep a journal of your travels across the United States to the Promised Land of Oregon.
In the end, I get why we played this in school, but no idea why I would sometimes play it with my friends when we were NOT in school. Maybe it was just the fact that they had it and I didn’t that made it exciting. And I always was a big pretender, so I liked getting to ‘create’ a character, even if that character died a gruesome death in the end. (Who am I kidding, ‘even’? The gruesome deaths probably added to it.)
Oregon Trail, in review, gets a thumb and a half down, and I ask ten year old me WTF I was thinking.