Oregon Trail Critique

The narrative structure goes in a chronological, and practical order. Basically you start with the idea of out in the west in Oregon there is a bustling city and opportunity. So you go to the store and depending on your profession that determines how much money you have. The ouster conditions determine your success in the game, like the season you are leaving in and whether members of your party are sick or not. Throughout the game as you are going through different monuments and areas you can talk to different people, trade,  and hunt. This allows for a more practical interpretation of how life was on the trail out west.

The primary historical argument for the game is that even though the thought of prosperity and a new life out west was an intriguing proposition to many, for most people it would be a death sentence. It is a very low percentage chance that when playing Oregon trail you make it all the way to Oregon. The west is depicted as a pretty barren and desolate place throughout the game due to the snake bites, disease and lack of civilization.

This game really white washes history in that throughout the game you are going through Native American territory but you never see Native Americans. For purposes of talking the people of color are depicted as illiterate, with southern sayings and women are depicted as damsel’s in distress. They are primarily passive historical agents since they don’t have a specific role or place that they serve. In other words, the game would still be the game without them.

The primary protagonist is the person playing the game, and really whoever their character is. Whether that is a doctor, carpenter, etc, your success is determined on where you are in the social hierarchy. The main way the narrative can be changed is if as the protagonist you change parts of the game. Changing aspects like not reloading supplies, or changing the pace. Essentially the main consequence and the change to the historical story is that your character dies. There aren’t major things that can be done to flip the role of the protagonist.

The graphics make the story easier to follow along with on the main map. While they are pretty basic they allow the game player the ability to adapt and rest, hunt, and engage in commerce. overall they give a concrete example of what the story really means. At the end of the trail you can take the raft and go down the river, that just shows the volatility of the conditions these people were traveling in.

The only part of the game from a historical perspective I would fault it is in the depictions, or lack there of Native Americans. They played an important role in the overall fabric of the history of the west and this in large part forgot them. Other than that this is a very accurate game that can be an effective tool for historical education. Its very realistic in depicting commerce, sickness, death and the different decisions people had to make when it came to stuff like short cuts, aka the Dawner party.

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