- The Oregon Trail (computer game)
title = The Oregon Trail
developer = MECC
Brøderbund The Learning Company
platforms = Windows,
Apple II, Macintosh, DOS
released = 1971, 1974, 1985, 1992, 1996, 2001
media = CD,
input = Keyboard, Mouse (some versions)
"The Oregon Trail" is an
educational computer gamedeveloped by Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann and Paul Dillenberger in 1971 and produced by MECC in 1974. The game was inspired by the real-life Oregon Trailand was designed to teach school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life on the trail. The player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding his party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valleyby way of the Oregon Trail via a Conestoga wagonin 1848.
The original version of "The Oregon Trail" was created in 1971 by three student teachers at
Carleton Collegein Northfield, Minnesota.cite web
title=Educational computing for the masses
SiliconUser] One of these students, senior Don Rawitsch, had the idea to create a computer program for a history class he was teaching, and recruited two of his friends, Paul Dillenberger and Bill Heinemann, both of whom were students teaching math, to help him. In 1974 Rawitsch took a job at Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, or MECC, a state-funded organization that developed educational software for the classroom. He uploaded his game into the organization's network where it could be accessed by schools across Minnesota, and it proved so popular that it was released and sold on floppy diskin 1985, when the format had become popular. Several updated versions were released between 1991 and 2001.
:"This section is applicable to the 1985
Apple IIrelease of The Oregon Trail."
A popular aspect of the game was the ability to go
hunting.Fact|date=October 2008 Using guns and bullets purchased over the course of the game, players select the hunt option and hunt wild animals to add to their food reserves. In the original version, players would control a little man onscreen who was capable of pointing a rifle in eight directions and firing single shots at animals. In later versions, players hunted with a crosshair controlled by the mouse. Buffalo (replaced by bear on the second half of the trail) were the slowest moving targets and yielded the most food, while rabbits and squirrels were fast and offered very small amounts of food. Deer were also available to be hunted. While the amount of wild game shot during a hunting excursion is only limited by the player's supply of bullets, the maximum amount that can be carried back to the wagon is 100 pounds. In later versions, as long as there are at least two living members of the wagon party, 200 pounds can be carried back to the wagon.
At the end of the journey, points are awarded according to a formula weighted by the profession chosen (points are doubled for a carpenter and tripled for a farmer), the number and health of surviving family members, remaining possessions, and cash on hand.
MECC has followed upon the success of "The Oregon Trail" with similar titles such as "
The Yukon Trail" and " The Amazon Trail". The original title has been re-released many times, for different platforms and on different media; it is currently up to the fifth edition.
The game was popular among North American elementary school students in the mid 1980s to early 1990s. Many students in the United States and Canada had access to the game at school.
The game has become culturally iconic and there remains an aspect of
nostalgiafor those who grew up playing the game.
The game resurfaced in 2008 when
Gameloftcreated an updated version for cell phones. [ [http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/Mobile/The+Oregon+Trail/review.asp?c=7058 Mobile Game Review: The Oregon Trail] PocketGamer. Retrieved October 10, 2008.]
Oregon Trail was parodied in
Gold Rush!" (1988 game)
The Yukon Trail"
The Amazon Trail"
Oregon Trail II"
* [http://ldt.stanford.edu/ldt1999/Students/kemery/esc/otMainFrame.htm Educational Software Classics] : Interview with Don Rawitsch, the original designer of "The Oregon Trail".
* [http://www.gamespot.com/gamespot/features/all/greatestgames/p-34.html Gamespot: "The Oregon Trail"]
* [http://www.wm.edu/amst/370/2005F/sp1 Gaming Our Way Through History] : A thorough exploration of the game and its implications.
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