Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blazing the Trail

When I was in the 6th grade, I had Typhoid. I also had a broken leg, diphtheria, dysentery, and many other deadly diseases. Sadly, most of the time these diseases resulted in my passing somewhere along the plains as my wagon train consisting of myself along with close friends MC Hammer, Hulk Hogan, Vanilla Ice, Macho Man, and many others pressed forward trying to make it across the country to the great Pacific Northwest. I am speaking of course of my various journeys along The Oregon Trail.

It was one of the first video games available for the old McIntosh computers that my elementary school had and it came out on those big floppy disks.

In the game, you could leave from any number of places depending on how much money and supplies you wanted to have. I often left from Boston because that is where the wealthy came from and I figured that had I been around during the 1800s, I certainly would've been wealthy.

During the course of the game you are faced with challenges of illness, weather slowing down your pace, running out of food and supplies, losing massive amounts of clothing or oxen due to a capsized wagon train while trying to cross the Missouri. These are tough challenges for me when I fire up the game at age 30, so you can only imagine how they were for me in 1992 at age 13. However, should I ever need to pack my family up and move them across the country in a wagon train, I am better equipped because of the time I spent playing the game.

What made this game so great was that you could hunt for more food, shooting a bear or a moose with a single shot from your regular old rifle...which should come in handy if I am ever in the woods and encounter bear. I know I can take him down with one shot from a poorly aimed gun and you can't learn that kind of stuff in a history book. You could trade for supplies or purchase more supplies if you had the means to do so. And, you delat with the very real possibility that a member of your wagon train, Andre the Giant, could die of Cholera. Powerful and invaluable lessons for a kid to learn! Who knew death and despear could be so fun and educational?

It also had a very interesting wrinkle that if a member of your party passed, you could write whatever you wanted on his or her tombstone. Then, when you played the game again, you might just stumble upon your own tombstone and would be given the option to read it. One such tombstone I recall reading said: "Here lies Andrew, 'Don't fake the funk on the nasty dunk.' "Remarkable.

The Oregon Trail was truly a great game, but I would be remiss if I didn't also shout out to the game that single handedly taught me multiplication: through fear of being eaten: Number Munchers.

1 comment:

  1. Bryan and I were just talking about Oregon Trail the other day. What a fantastically depressing game that was.