Table 5 Oregon Trail Response

  1. What’s the primary historical narrative of the game and how is it presented?
    1. The primary historical narrative of the game is to get to Oregon on the Oregon trail. It represents the American idea of Manifest Destiny. The game is presented as a map and diary entry with weather conditions. The main characters are the individuals on the wagon party who must endure through the terrain as they face different circumstances.
  2. Who is the main protagonist? How are they represented? (Consider their place in history?)
    1. The main protagonist is the wagon party. The wagon party is represented as individuals who are looking to get to Willamette Valley. There’s a strong sense of patriotism and
  3. Who are the NPC’s? Who are they represent? How are they treated historically?
    1. Some of the NPC’s that we saw were Native Americans, African American women, white ladies, soldiers, children, traders, and Mormons.  The Native Americans are represented as simple minded because of the way in which their text bubbles were written. There would be pauses behind each statement as if they needed time to think, seeing as the game was trying to interpret their use of language compared to Anglo-Americans. It was also seen that the Native Americans in different regions were being generalized based on the representation of their homes like Tipis’.  in a way that were being
  4. How effectively is history conveyed in the game?
    1. The history conveyed in the game is incredibly narrow. It doesn’t necessarily teach you much about the history but introduces certain topics. For instance, it gives the player an insight of the Manifest Destiny, whereas when you travel west you are gradually changing the environment around you. Whether it is killing off the local wildlife like buffalo, having your cattle overgraze the landscape, or the significance of the trail pushing out populations of Native Americans from their territory.
  5. Can they be used to teach history? How? Why?
    1. Oregon Trail can be used to teach history to young elementary school students but should not be used for anyone older than that. It acts as a means to build interest in the subject of going west on certain trails as you play to win. Therefore, It builds a general knowledge of what occured in that time period, yet lacks specifics, or misrepresents certain aspects of the trail.
  6. As a digital media, is this a good way of presenting a historic topic?
    1. Oregon Trail is not a good way of presenting a historical topic because it has an incredibly narrow view. However, it could act as a supplement to a historical topic, in the way it has you critically think about travelling down a trail. If it is an addition to other information on the matter, then it can act as a perk to better understand that other form of presentation.
  7. What topics could be served by a video game?
    1. A video game serves to represent a historical narrative that offers interaction and immersion in a certain environment. Therefore, it could be used to gain a specific viewpoint or allow players to explore a social or environmental space that is possibly no longer present. Despite possibly lacking in historical accuracy, it does well in engaging a player to think like the character in the game, which either helps to understand a social groups agency, or the viewpoint of game developers themselves. Take for example the use and need of supplies on the Oregon trail. There was ultimately this sensation that your success while travelling west was dependent on your maintenance of materials. It can start questions on how exactly these travellers managed their supplies or what exactly did they do to gain them. Also, asking the question of what effects did it have on the environment, etc? Thus games serve as a purpose of critically thinking about history, rather than it being a total accurate representation of it.

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