Oregon Trail

What is the narrative structure of the game and how is it told?

When playing Oregon Trail, the player’s main goal is to safely bring his or her party through the Oregon Trail. Traveling party across the American west starting in the late 1840’s. During the journey, the player is taught about the pioneer life of the 19th century and some the realities of it. The player has to make key decisions ranging from how to efficiently travel, how to hunt and gather food, and also make sure the health of your party remains intact. On the 2,000 mile journey, the player can face starvation, natural disasters, diseases, and even death.     

What is the primary historical argument for the game? How is the West represented?  

The historical argument of Oregon Trail is show the the realities of pioneer life and how difficult is once was to travel great lengths in the United States. Traveling during the 19th century posed a great theratto travelers because it was very dangerous and unpredictable. By participating in this journey, a person is at risk of death due to the scarcity of food and lack of supplies. It took a substantial amount work to prepare for a journey like this and that work only intensifies while the person is on it. Throughout history, the West is also romanized as being this place where you can start fresh and you will have a better life. Oregon Trail exposes that notion because they show the process of getting their and the hardships the travelers have to endure to reach their destination. Even by getting to the destination, the player does not make it without losing members of their party due to disease and starvation.       

What was the overall effectiveness of the game from a history education stand point?

Oregon Trail is effective in showing what it was like traveling westward in America during the 19th century, so it could be used as a pedagogical tool as source material to provide students with context. The games gives the player an insight on how these travels were managed by gathering food, collecting resources, and caring for the sick. Realistic measures must be taken during each season and if not major consequences ensue. It contest the notion of the West as being entertaining and shows that it took a lot of sacrifices for people to eventually end up here. The graphics add more context to the game because the user gets to experience what the geographically environment was like for the travellers.  

Gender in Video Games

Women in video games have been historically misrepresented and underrepresented due to the constant sexism in video game culture. Women are often portrayed by social and gender norms in society which puts women protagonist at risk of negative stereotypes. They are often sexually objectified and are usually in the game to complete the “love story” narrative. The way that women are portrayed in video games does not allow women to have any agency which makes them dependent on men in every aspect of life. Within twine games, females do not play a large role in the game narrative and often times just seen as sexualize objects because of their lack of clothes. Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball is a perfect example of women representation in video games, they are often dressed in a small amount of clothes exposing their bodies.

While AAA video games and their mechanics allow women to have more agency than women in twine games, they still go through the process of being sexualized due to their appearance. Games will give women exaggerated traits in order to create a facade of what the perfect woman looks like.  While video games nowadays do not always see the female character act like Princess Peach who needs to man to save her, but rather women are breaking stereotypes and becoming able to act on their own. Breaking from these stereotypes allows women to break from these societal norms of real life that carry over into video game culture. The Tomb Raider series does a fantastic job of showing the evolution of a female protagonist, in the earlier games, Lara Croft, is seen to have exaggerated features and a very thin body. As the game series progress, Lara Croft looks to be more reliable and is painted in a more modern way.

Men and hypermasculinity go hand in hand throughout the history of video games. The demographics of video games were once male dominated, so men were often times portrayed in a heroic light. Masculinity is at the forefront of nearly every video game today which does not allow women to grow in games. Men range from being a veteran in World War II, to having superpowers and being violent. These characteris help push the elements of masculinity in video game culture. Having masculinity run so prominently in video games allows men to subject women to gender and social norms and pushes the narrative that women need men for the betterment of their life.

Video games that were created in the 80s and 90s, knew their demographic was mostly men so this allows developers to cater more towards men with specific characters and traits. Game mechanics looked back then,  so the characters were very limited in what they could do.Since most of the protagonists were men, the supporting characters could have been female but they did not have any agency. With that being said and the development new mechanics, have allowed women characters to become more prevalent in video game culture. Women in video games are becoming relatable to the public because they are independent thinkers and can take on a large role in a video game.We are now at apoint where both a male and female can thrive in the same video game.