The Story Behind Oregon Trail

In honor of the previous post about Oregon Trail & Carmen┬áSan Diego coming to Facebook, here’s a story about the origin of Oregon Trail.

Rawitsch, a lanky, bespectacled 21-year-old with hair well over his ears, was both a perfectionist and an idealist. He started dressing as historical figures in an attempt to win over his students, appearing in the classroom as explorer Meriwether Lewis.

By now he’d made it through to the western expansion unit, and he had in mind his boldest idea yet.

What he had so far was a board game tracing a path from Independence, Missouri, to the Willamette Valley in Oregon. The students would pretend to be pioneer families. Each player would start with a certain amount of money and buy oxen, clothes, and food. Students would advance with the roll of a die, along the way encountering various misfortunes: broken limbs, thieves, disease. In roughly 12 turns, the kids would simulate the 2,000-mile journey that thousands of pioneers made to the West Coast in the 19th century.

He called it “Oregon Trail.”

Read the whole story here.

The “Educational” Games of my Youth Come to Facebook

As if I needed an excuse to be distracted at work, Carmen San Diego and Oregon Trail are coming to Facebook!

What’s interesting to me is that unlike, say, Farmville, Carmen San Diego and Oregon Trail are actually supposed to kind of teach you things. Like, for example, that even if you shoot an entire buffalo you can only carry fifty pounds back with you — even if you have, like ten kids traveling with you. (You know what I’m talking about, Oregon Trail players!)

So what do y’all think about this? Is it just a nostalgia fest for those of us who remember these games? Do these games teach anything? Are they ‘fun’? Anyone? Bueller?

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