Educational Games: Check Out the Oregon Trail Video Game

You might think gaming is super modern, but the Oregon Trail video game was created in 1971. The masterminds behind it were Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger who released it in 1974.

The game was made available to consumers by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC). The original game taught the realities of pioneering in 19th-century life on the Oregon Trail to 8th-grade school kids.

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The player assumes the role of a wagon leader in 1848. You are leading a group of settlers from Independence, Missouri, in a covered wagon to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Learn more about this educational game next. 

Educational Games: Check Out the Oregon Trail Video Game
Image source: Open Ended Social Studies

Oregon Trail Series

The 1985 version is The Oregon Trail series’ first graphical and most well-known entry. It was released for many platforms, like Apple II, DOS, and Macintosh computers, in several versions between 1985 and 1993. 

Games in the series have since been produced by different developers and publishers in several editions, most titled The Oregon Trail. The different games in the series are sometimes viewed as variations of the same title.

They have sold over 65 million copies collectively and were inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. A variety of spinoffs, such as The Yukon Trail and The Amazon Trail, were also inspired by the series.

The Oregon Trail Gameplay

Travel

The player either has to be a Boston banker, an Ohio carpenter, or an Illinois farmer. Before starting their journey, each profile begins with a defined amount of money to spend at the supply store.

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The banker has the most money and the farmer has the least money. There are some landmarks along the trail after the player heads off from Independence, Missouri, where players can make choices, buy supplies, or rest. 

Players may buy animals like oxen to pull the wagon. They can also buy food to feed their party, clothes to keep their party warm, hunting ammunition, and wagon spare parts.

Educational Games: Check Out the Oregon Trail Video Game
Image source: YouTube / Grunge

Hunting

The ability to hunt was a significant feature of the game. Players choose the hunting option (# 8) and kill wild animals to add to their food supplies by using weapons and bullets purchased during the course of play. 

While the player can shoot as many wild games as they have bullets, in early game models, only 100 pounds of meat can be taken back to the wagon at once. 

In later versions, 200 pounds could be taken back as long as there were at least two living members of the wagon group. Players could also hunt in various locations in later versions.

The over-hunting of animals would result in “scarcity” that limited the number of animals that later appeared in the game. Some versions allow the player to go fishing as well.

Death

Members of the player’s party may become ill and not rest during the course of the game. Different causes and illnesses can kill the party. 

Diseases involve measles, snakebite, fatigue, typhoid, cholera, and dysentery, and also accidental bullets and drowning wounds. The oxen of the player are also prone to injury and death.

Educational Games: Check Out the Oregon Trail Video Game
Image source: USgamer

Scoring

The score of a player is determined in two phases at the end of the journey. 

For each remaining family member, every remaining possession, and total cash on hand, the program awards a raw score in the first stage. 

The program multiplies this raw score in the second step, depending on the initial level of resources calculated by the leader of the party.

Final Words

Target suddenly began selling a portable version of The Oregon Trail for $24.99 in late February 2018. The store is now the exclusive distributor of Oregon and an Oregon Trail card game is also available.

It was originally only available in shops, but you can now order it online.  You need to check out what gaming used to look like in its beginning – it’s truly fascinating to play this old educational game. 

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