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10 Things You May Not Know About "The Oregon Trail"

October 14, 2016

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If you were an 80s or 90s kid, you undoubtedly know the pain of dying of dysentery before you reached the end of the Oregon Trail in computer lab, and how fun it was to put funny names on the tombstones of those in your party. To take you back to the simpler times, here's a list of 10 things you may or may not know about the totally-awesome computer game.

1.The game wasn’t created by people who lived in Oregon.

That’s right, the trail is actually known to people outside of the state. The game was in fact created by three Minnesota teachers who wanted a more interactive and interesting way to teach their students about the Oregon Trail’s part in history.

2.The game was developed in 1971.

Although the game rose to popularity in the late 80s and 90s, the game was created in 1971 and later released on floppy disc nationwide in 1985.

3.It wasn’t always as easy as aiming a gun to shoot a buffalo or bear.

In the first version of the game, players had to manually type out “pow” or “bang” as fast as they could in order to shoot an animal. And you guessed it, a misspelled word didn’t count as a shot.

4.Fording the river typically worked if the water was between 2-3 feet deep.

One of the creators of the game states this was a player’s best chance of survival. This piece of information might be a little bittersweet, but better late than never.

5.The game was created to be completed in 45 minutes.

The creators of the game intended for it to be able to be completed in the time a class period takes. But seriously, who actually beat the game that fast?

6.For a beginner, the best chance of survival came with choosing to be the banker.

Shocking that not being poor gave players the best chance of survival. In the game throwing money at problems could often help solve them, so unlike the real world.

7.Shooting everything in sight didn’t actually help you.

On the virtual Oregon Trail, and presumably the real life one, bullets were important and wasting them on meat you couldn’t carry in your wagon wasn’t actually the smartest thing to do.

8.The current record-score on the game is 53,350.

A player’s score on the game was determined by many things: how your party fared, the supplies you had at the end of the game, and how much money you were able to hold on to. You know you want to try and beat it.

9.The game isn’t 100 percent historically correct.

After one or two experiences with the game one might think every settler on the Oregon Trail died of dysentery and traded sweaters with Indians for supplies or help, but this isn’t actually the case. It was much more common for an emigrant to die from cholera, and to trade alcohol, guns or bullets with Native Americans.

10.You can still play the original game.

Now that you’ve been mentally brought back to the days of middle school computer lab, you’ll be pleased to know that you can still download and play there game here.

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