The posts on this blog have thus far been about weird and funny education videos from the 30’s to the 70’s. This makes sense as I stated that this blog would be about funny vintage educational films. However, I thought it’d be fun to jump to my own 1990’s early education. And so without further ado, I give you: The Oregon Trail!!!
So cool, right? In the 80’s somewhat got the idea that kids didn’t actually pay attention to educational films shown in class, and so the solution was to make an interactive education film using the new computer technology. Granted, the computer technology was at the level you see below, but it still sounded great on paper!
The original idea was to create a virtual recreation of the hardships of the Oregon Trail for children’s edutainment. Which Microsoft Word actually recognizes as a word. You start out in Independence, Missouri (see Hillary, I told you I’d visit Missouri) where you have to stock up on supplies and name all your fellow travelers. You were supposed to get a good combination of persons with jobs that had desirable skill sets and helpful rations, but no one wanted to spend too much time on this part of the game because, let’s face it, this is the most boring part. What you really did if you were in my fourth grade class was stock up on tons of bullets so you could go hunting (which, with arcade-like graphics, was one of the highlights of the game) and name the people in your wagon after your best friends and worst enemies.
Then you started on your way. The hardships you faced included making difficult decisions like: To you caulk the wagon and float, ford the river (whatever that means), drive through it, or pay money for a ferry (Pshhh, too practical). Of course, no matter what, you’re more likely than not to fall in the river and lose all of your supplies. This is a good opportunity to note the disparate graphics you see in these pictures. For whatever reason, the makers of the game occasionally updated the quality of the graphics (God knows why, the terrible graphics are part of the fun, there’s even t-shirts of them now!) so I displayed examples from the earliest version of the game as well as the version of my childhood.
And then there’s hunting. Like I said, basically a shooter game. You hunt forever, no matter how many bullets you waste or how many warnings you get that you’ll “make game scarce if you keep hunting here.” In the end, you shoot up 500 pounds of meet, but are only able to carry 50 with you. So you leave the rest. Good job. Treating animals (and people, but that’s to come) horribly is necessary for the game. If you want to make it all the way to Oregon then you have to go at a “strenuous pace” that will kill the animals but get you to Oregon before too many people die off. And oh do they die off.
Of course, you could stop so that the sick could rest or receive medical attention (or you could’ve bought that medical supplies at the general store). But you didn’t and you don’t You truck through. This is where naming all the characters after your friends and enemies pays off. Because you get notes like this:
“Burying and mourning the dead…Zeke got sick and died.”
There is divine punishment for your thoughtless ways, you probably won’t make it to Oregon either. Many a game have ended with this final, educational, statement:
“Everyone in your party has died. Many wagons fail to make it all the way to Oregon.”
The End. See you next week.