Oregon Trail

Oregon Trail might be one of my favorite old school Apple IIc games. The premise is to get you and your family to Oregon by covered wagon across the planes and mountains of the US. You first have a choice to pick what your character occupation is. The trick here is to pick doctor. In this case you are playing as the as the main protagonist, in my case the doctor and his family. The family can be represented any way you would like they are only known by name so you could give them all male names or all female names. There are many other NPCs in the game with few, if any, women depicted in the game. There are also Native Americans who are depicted as living in teepees no matter where you are on the trail, with feathers in their hair and very light skin tone. At one point you can ask for help from an “Indian” tribe, but they do not have much agency in this narrative.  The historical aspect of the game is very loose. You stop at forts that would have been on the wagon trail west, but that is about it. One thing that is stressed is the difficulty of the journey. Other than that, I don’t believe there is much merit to the use of the game to teach any lessons about the movement to the west. Oregon Trail is a game that might spark interest in learning more about the lives of the settler that moved westward by wagon train to grade school kids, but I don’t think there is much use in this game for middle to high school students. I do believe this topic could be well served by this game, but there would need to be a complete redesign with much more historical information imbedded into the game. If that is done, this game could be used up to college students, depending on the class it is used in. This game uses a major part of America’s idea of manifest destiny and the western movement across America.  

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