The “Oregon Trail” video game series was first published by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) in 1974. It was designed to teach young children about the harsh reality of pioneering life on the Oregon Trail. There are currently seven “Oregon Trail” video games on the market.
“Oregon Trail, the Original Game
In the first installment of the “Oregon Trail” video game series, the player takes on the role of a car game leader. The game begins in Independence, Missouri, where the player must buy supplies for the journey ahead and assemble a group of settlers. The game accommodates all decisions the player makes, such as buying too much of an item, such as food, overloading their cart and slowing down their group. The game was revolutionary because it implemented a system of severe consequences that punished one player for making poor decisions. In addition, the game gained success as an educational tool because it successfully balanced fun mini-games like hunting with an instructional theme. The first installment of the game had minimal graphics but proved popular enough to be re-released in 1992 with visual enhancements.
“Oregon Trail 2”
The second installment of the “Oregon Trail” game series was published by MECC in 1996. The game improves on its predecessor with graphic enhancements and complexity. Instead of occurring over the course of a year, the second “Oregon Trail” took place over the 20-year period. It was designed to show people traveling on the road of evolution as development and technological advances were made. The game also offers a greater selection of occupations to choose from when creating your convoy in the split city. Moreover, the interactive games played more smoothly and looked better, and the consequences of the decisions were more realistic.
“Oregon Trail 3rd Edition”
In 1997 MECC sold the publication rights of “Oregon Trail” to the learning company, which quickly launched the third edition of the series. In addition to updating graphics, much remains unchanged between the second and third editions. The largest feature added was an interactive guide with information on plants, wildlife, native populations, and historical facts about the original pioneers. In addition, players were able to walk around in buildings and have a look around to get an idea of what the construction was like in 1848. 3rd Edition Oregon Trail” continued to challenge players with decisions with important consequences in a more detailed, fully realized virtual world.
“Oregon Trail 4th edition” and “Oregon Trail 5th edition”
The learning company launched the fourth edition of the “Orgeon Trail” video game series in 2001 and launched the fifth edition three years later in 2004. Both games feature more of the same “Oregon Trail” experience. The fourth edition had improved graphically but retained the 2-D look, while the fifth edition brought the game in 3D graphics. Basically, each edition has added more detail to the environments and the player you meet along the way. Conversations were more fleshed out, and the decisions made had an even greater impact. The basic elements of fun mixed with education remained intact in both editions.
“Oregon Trail Mobile Edition”
“Oregon Trail Mobile Edition” was released in 2008 by mobile game developer Gameloft. The mobile edition is much more agile than its predecessors, focusing heavily on mini-games. The player still starts in Missouri and must assemble a crew before the journey begins, but character interactions are nowhere near as detailed. The mobile edition re-imagines the original in a more action-packed, fast-paced experience. Facebook Games is in production on its own version of “Oregon Trails” to be released in 2011. It features a more agile game in tune with the mobile edition and is available for play in its beta version.