Capcom And Konami Next On The Merger List?
Do Not Open 'Til May 2006: Nintendo Keeps Revolution Games Locked Away

Creator Of Oregon Trail Reveals Secrets, Explains "Inadequate Grass"

Oregon TrailAnyone who grew up in the mid-to-late 1980s in the American public school system most likely has fond memories of the Apple //e edutainment game The Oregon Trail, a RPG in which players lead a team of five pioneers across the untamed United States in the 1800s.  Now, twenty years later, the creator of the game is speaking out about how the game came to be, what ideas didn't make it into the final version, and what lessons the game was supposed to teach the players.

Some other versions of The Oregon Trail made hunting too simple and too easy – in my opinion. In my version, you could move the hunter around the screen in 4 directions and fire the gun in 8 directions – using various keys on the keyboard. Furthermore, I put obstacles on the screen that the animals could run behind. So it requires some practice to master the hunting skills and be successful. Consequently, some new players – and most adults – complained that I had made hunting too difficult. But a visit to any school provided ample evidence that legions of kids – mostly boys – had completely mastered the hunting interface.

Back in my elementary school days The Oregon Trail was the only computer game that my classmates and I were allowed to play in school.  Everybody took turns traveling the trail and dying of dysentery and the first time that one of us made it to the raft ride portion of the game everybody gathered 'round the black-and-green monitor to watch as the trail ride approached the end.

They don't make edutainment like this anymore; Oregon Trail's educational qualities revolved around logical decisions and careful planning, but today's edutainment is only "educational" if it involves bulk loading of "important" facts and dates.  I ask you, which is more important to learn: what combination of products are needed to cross the mountains in the winter or the exact date that World War I began?  Buffalo hunting is always tops in my book.