The Let's Play Archive

Oregon Trail

by Chewbot

Part 2: History Lesson

Actual content!

Anyone who graduated third grade in the US should be familiar with this game; it dominated every Apple computer in the school system by pretending to be educational. In truth, as every schoolchild knew, the only thing educational to be found was the word dysentery. In case you didn't graduate third grade, the premise of this game is simply this: guide a family of five through 1800's American Midwest in a ox-drawn wagon and try not to die in horrible agony along the way.

What this game failed spectacularly to do was explain why anyone in real life would risk life and limb to journey by wagon halfway across the country. So to get us in the right frame of mind for this epic expedition, I offer a presentation on the real Oregon Trail, brought to you by Wikipedia and GIS.

Enjoy and read along with a period ditty!

The first dudes to draw a map across America were Lewis and Clark, who were looking for the best way to get to the West coast by land because Thomas Jefferson told them to, and one does not fuck with "the T-man".

But despite their gigantic egos, they completely booched it by mapping a path that was utter murder on wagons. Actually, they were never any good at exploration, they just managed to get Indians to constantly give them directions.

This license plate doesn't even have Lewis and Clark in their own tribute, just an Indian telling them which way to go.

Not content with their crap routes over the next few decades, crazy white men of all shapes and sizes were beginning to chart new paths to the west coast for one big reason: free land for anyone who didn't mind sitting in the bushes day and night with a shotgun.

By 1848, the year in which our esteemed game is set, families were moving out to Oregon in droves, BY THE THOUSANDS I TELL YOU.

The official "trail" had taken root and been established, but there was a much bigger reason pops was suddenly loading up the wagon: gold rush madness in California had just hit its peak.

And thus, the Oregon Trail was forged from the wagons of misery and the greed of insane, lawless men who had forced their families into inevitable pain and doom for the deluded pursuit of massive wealth. Seriously, most of these people were violent criminals.

Little did they know that once they would arrive, almost a year later, the gold rush would have run dry and little Susie had to die for no reason.

Unbeknownst to those early trailblazers, over a hundred years later America would be blessed with the game: The Oregon Trail, brought to us in 1974 by Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation, or MECC.

Wait a second, what the fuck does Minnesota have to do with The Oregon Trail? Nothing! The state funded development of educational games and some dork named Don Rawistch thought it would make a good game. Today, Don has become so famous for his work that he does not even deserve his own Wikipedia article, so his tale ends here.

The Oregon Trail would not be unleashed upon the rest of the country, slumbering safely and snugly in their blankets of ignorance, until over a decade later when floppy disks had become ubiquitous enough to be found even in children's classrooms, of all places. The software then spread through the veins of the American school system like toxin from a venomous snake bite. By 1985 there was no escaping it.

The Oregon Trail would eat the world.

Welcome to the LP!

I've heard that this game has had a brief stint in the forums before, but we're going to try something a little different. I like stories and you like telling people what to do, so we're gonna have it both ways. As far as I know, this will be the first ad-libbed, narrative LP. I'll frequently ask what we should do and I'll try to turn the results into a cohesive story. At the very least it should be... interesting? Let's get started!

Read below before making a suggestion!

As much as I am loathe to end an OP with a name vote, I think it's fairly appropriate here.

I know you're chomping at the bit to suggest the name Dongs, but it won't be that easy. First off, we'll need five names. This is usually where you put your family or classmates in hopes that they die tragically, but we're going to try something a little different- I'll be picking names based on description.

If you have a name you want to suggest, write a brief (two or three sentence) history of the character. Ideally, we should have a father, mother, a son, a daughter and an infant of either gender- like the screenshot! You don't need to write something for all of them, I'll probably mix and match the best characters. Don't worry; they don't have to be amazing or serious, they just have to be... not abysmal. There's gonna be dialogue, so bonus points if you include a character portrait I can use later in the thread!

Submit as many characters as you want... if there's enough interest I may do multiple playthroughs with different characters.