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.  

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