Tuesday, 29 January 2013

#1 The Oregon Trail

Released: 1971 -  Various Platforms               

Developer: MECC
Played: 28th January 2013 - online hosting of 1985 Apple II version

Built as an educational tool, The Oregon trail was the excuse for many kids to play games in school for the first time, Edutainment. The premise is simple, get your family to Oregon, but being that it's 1848 that's easier said than done, death, desert and dysentery lie ahead, this'll take some planning. Start it up and  choose a profession, name your family and off you go into the wild;
I chose the role of a carpenter, hoping that my skills would mean that I could trade for food or perhaps repair my cart, alas my talents were not utilised in a manner which i had forseen.Leaving the town of Independence on a warm April morning I made a little headway into the journey when I stumbled upon a river crossing. Being that said river was only 4 feet deep I thought the best course to be to cork up the cart and float it across...my son drowned, I lost food and supplies....not little Steve...no, god, why?! This was not the start I wanted, not at all.However we said our goodbyes to Steve's waterlogged corpse and knew we must make haste on the trail, for it was tough ahead and really Steve was unwanted, or that what I told myself at how suddenly I seemed to be over his death. Further into the wilderness we went, I attempted my first spot of hunting but a small bush impeded my steps and I somehow forgot how to walk or shoot,  meaning I failed to catch a single thing, alas the second of my children suddenly passed away, little Eric..nooooooooo. Also i swear some of our possessions went missing last night...

But onward we must go, I rationed our supplies and made haste, into the wide yonder, stopping at forts and streams, the pixelated plains of the west were my bitch, nothing was out of my reach....except my wife, who just died, I’m presuming that in the grief of having lost her two sons she saw fit to take her own life to accompany them to the pearly gates. So, I’m a single dad, on the road with my only remaining child, my daughter Sophie, The weather is warm, too warm, poor health has gripped us and our food supplies are running low, the oxen have little grass to eat and there is seeming to be not a great amount of reason to even reach Oregon. No, I mustn't think that way... For Sophie's sake.The Oxen are starting to die, we have very little water and my Sophie has broken her leg, how she did this whilst riding in the Wagon I will never know.We have run out of food. Sophie is dead, I can only presume I am eating her corpse to sustain myself as I journey on, only the sweet smell or Oregon is driving me, calling my name, there I can get a new life, a new family, one that can weather this kind of adventure.
My hunting skills have not failed me this time, whilst nobody in the previous settlement would trade me any food, probably because I'm ill, have the stench of death about me, a wagon full of corpses and no clean clothes, I’ve managed to kill a deer, and it should sustain me for a little while. I have reached a river, hopefully I make it across... the ferry is $2 and I have to wait 2 days to cross, I have little money and even less time, I must press on, the water is waist deep...I can wade..I am wet, the wagon didn’t float and I lost my remaining food to the river along with clothing and supplies to fix the wagon.Somehow I’m back on the road but have developed a case of the measles...the food is gone.There is a heavy fog as I try to reach the fort in the distance, there I can possibly buy some food, it's been so long since I ate.I have stumbled upon a building near the fort, it looks as if it is abandoned, maybe this family has gone to Oregon too. Inside is another set of clothes, perhaps it will keep me warm on these long nights...so cold...so hungry...I’ll rest for a little while. 

So that the end of my trek across America, or the attempt anyway, hey at least I died of hunger in a desert, not Cholera. Seriously hard game though, I feel like I missed out on this whilst I was growing up and I’m glad I’ve had the chance to play it. The original marvel of playing a game in school as so many did is probably lost on me as I’m a child of the console era, but I can more than appreciate the complexity of a game of this type being made so long ago, it's very in depth; there are alot of RPG's today that don't go into this kind of detail or consequence of your actions, especially without explanation, it's almost like real life. I don't know much about travelling to Oregon, even though the game is meant to be educational, but I can tell you this...don’t take your kids, just trade them for food, clothes and oxen, then maybe you'll make it.

Play it for yourself here. http://www.virtualapple.org/oregontraildisk.html

1 comment:

  1. After immediately losing my wife, Jessie, as she drowned whilst we floated across a river and my cart capsized, I found myself as a single dad, with 3 young boys struggling to find their way.
    After James caught cholera and succumbed to his plight, Meowth soon broke his arm, and Giovanni came down with dysentery (before dying a day later).
    James perished after another month, he put up a good fight, but it wasn't meant to be. Meowth also drowned soon after (why can't my family swim?!), and I was left alone. I managed to get lost 3 times, wasting more precious time, before I had a total of 12 Oxen stolen by thieves - talk about kicking a man when he's down! I then suffered a broken leg, yet still soldiered on despite my unfortunate circumstances!
    I then broke my other leg (told you I was unfortunate) and before anything else happened, broke my other leg AGAIN!
    Despite all of this, I DID make it to Oregon. What a joy to behold...only...I had two broken legs, no money and no food. Still, at least I had the love of my famil...oh.