Nearly everyone in my generation remembers when our schools first got computers. They were a type called Apple II GS. There were a few small computer labs in my school and you could play a few rudimentary math games (Number Crunchers) and such by inserting and loading the game from giant 5.5in floppy disks. They were slow, with pixilated graphics, bad/no sound…and we loved them.
By far the most beloved game, which enthralled us all with its graphics, storyline, and gameplay, was Oregon Trail. Obviously the game was created by some visionary genius who in an underhanded and sneaky way knew how to get children to care about the western migration of the 1800’s. We spent hours, no – days pretending we, as westward bound pioneers, were trying (and often failing) to make it to the west coast in 1848.
If you were a historian studying the early 1990’s in the United States one of the primary sources you would have to look at would be Oregon Trail. It was a cultural touchstone for an entire generation of kids; the first generation of kids to have computers readily available in school. Try, if you can, to put yourself in my (5-7 grade) shoes and imagine sitting at a clunky looking white box, screen glowing a pixilated green, two friends leaning over your shoulder whisper-shouting advice about how many oxen to buy, when to stop and rest, and – all importantly – whether or not to ford the river. It was obsessing.
Your assignment is to get to the west coast. Play Oregon Trail!..and love it.