Few things were more exciting in elementary school than getting to play Oregon Trail. It didn’t matter if you had a math test that day, if you had a fight with your best friend over a pet rock, or forgot your lunch money. If it was your class’s day to go to the computer lab, all was right with the world.
What exactly was it about Oregon Trail that we found so fascinating? Was it the buffalo hunting? The possibility of starvation? The fact that you could inexplicably die of any number of scary diseases? If you were doing well, Mary wouldn’t break an arm or a leg and you would have enough money to get the supplies you needed to survive. If you were heading toward having to purchase a headstone, Joe would get a snakebite, Pa’s wagon would break an axle, and your whole party would fail to ford the river. Those pesky rivers!
So was it the strategy we were drawn to? Coming to grips with the fact that we would never make it in pioneer times and feeling grateful we lived in the 1980s? Actually it was probably just the fact that we got out of class for half an hour.
Whatever the reason, when an 80s kids walks into Target as an adult and sees that there is an Oregon Trail board game he or she MUST buy it. A lot of time has passed. We’re smarter. Older and wiser. Surely we can win this game with ease now. Right?