Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oregon Trail

This past week I visited Portland.
Portland is a neat place.  Everyone there lives entirely on coffee and bagels.  This makes them young and thin and beautiful.
I didn't get much sketching done though, since I spent most of the time in the hotel bathroom sicker than a dog. 
I don't really want to draw this frame.

That's ok though, because everything I need to know about the Willamette Valley I learned in 3rd grade.

Oregon Trail was a computer game they let us play once we finished up Typing Tutor.  They say it was educational, but I highly doubt that, since the game was fun.  One thing's for sure: Mrs. Pesout's 3rd grade class had the highest wpm average thanks to that game.  You should've seen our fingers fly.

The object of Oregon Trail was to get your wagon and family to Oregon without dying.  There were lots of different ways to play it.

Kimberly, for example, would play it safe. 
 She always chose to be a banker, loaded her wagon with food and tools, went at a steady pace, full rations, and always took the ferry.

She never finished the game before class ended.

I think she got to Kansas once.

Ryan, on the other hand, played it like a harp.
 He chose to be a farmer, hunted when he needed to, had moderate rations, went at a strenuous pace, and also knew what "caulking" meant so his wagon never exploded in the water.  He toasted everyone with his high scores.

I think he might have married Kimberly, actually.  Weird how life goes.

Jordan played the game the same way 85% of the boy population played the game.

Like this:
Jordan was the one who found out that if you hold down the arrow key and the space bar, you become a swirling vortex of bullets.

He may have perfected the technique, though I don't know if anyone will find out.  Apparently computer games aren't allowed in prison.

 Last of all, there was me.
 I got my wpm average up to a whopping 42, because I needed the time to play Oregon Trail in my own special way.

And when I say "special" I mean: I tried to kill all of my wagon members.

 You may think that this would be losing the game.  But it's not, and you know why?  Because if all 5 members of your party died, YOU GOT TO WRITE YOUR OWN TOMBSTONE.
And the best part was, the next person who played Oregon Trail on that computer would find your tombstone with the funny epitaph and he would die laughing!  Hahaha!  Isn't that great?? 

So every computer class, there I was, trying to get my family members to die as soon as possible.
 This was a WHOLE lot harder than it sounds.  For a game that's so darn hard to win, it's harder than heck to lose!

But I had Techniques.

 I never took the ferry or caulked the wagon.  A good ol' fording always did the trick.
 Secondly: grueling pace.  Also, bare-bones rations.  This knocks them off pretty quickly.  Until the do-gooders get in the way.
 It's like the game doesn't want you to lose!

So after a while of no food and grueling pace, weird unpronounceable diseases start to pick off your characters.  (I was in college before I realized dysentery was not pronounced "dentistry.")

Side note:  if you are playing the game this way, don't name your characters after anyone or anything you care about.
 It will mess you up inside.

All this and you STILL had to do it within the class period!
Talk about nerve-wracking!
Anyway, if you managed to do all this, kill off all 5 members of your party including you, you got the tombstone honor!!  It was a beautiful day when I had died of cholera and the screen asked if I wanted to write my epitaph.  I did.  Oh yes I did.

I only ever wrote one thing. which I thought was the funniest thing ever.  

The lucky kid who played next found this:
 My sides are splitting.


Betty Edit said...

I think this is my favorite post ever. :o)

P. Daniel Quinney said...

Oh, the great memories of computer labs in elementary school when I would play this. I think I was one of those who wanted to make sure all my people made it there alive. I was careful and boring like that.

Julie said...

This post explains a lot of things, like why your teachers would just shake their heads and chose their words so carefully. I thought it was because they didn't want to make the other parents who were listening feel badly that their children weren't as clever, but maybe I was wrong.......

katie+brandon said...

I told you your blog was my favorite ever. It totally made my day. I'm laughing so hard. Out loud. I'm lshol. You rock.

Hanna said...

I loved this game so much. Did every school in North America have it at a certain time?

Anthony Holden said...

I agree with the young Miss Edit: best post ever!

Kate Coursey said...

This is awesome. I'm only 18, but I totally remember playing this game in elementary school.

Drew said...

I truly LOLed at the "pepperony and chease" part. I have no idea how, but I don't think I ever realized the purpose of this game was to get your entire party across the plains intact... Maybe it's because I never had the chance to play it that long? Or because I killed everyone before I ever made it? I always named my people after the characters in American Girl books (especially Kirsten and Felicity-- it's like they were the only colonial/pioneer names I could think of).

Rebecca J. Carlson said...

This was just an early sign that you were going to end up as a writer.

Brant Moon said...

Just about fell out of my chair at the hunting image littered with buffalo corpses. The truth is hilarious!

Abby Budd said...

You are a TOTAL GENIUS!!!! Why didn't I think of that?!

Mr. Dinks said...

I always knew Mothra was Canadian.

The Andimator said...

While I don't know for certain you meant to kill ME, thank you for putting peperony and cheesy on my Tombstone (I just now got the joke about "What do you want on YOUR Tombstone?")

Pizza is dangerous--I once shattered a molar on a piece of Little Caesar's pizza.

Word Verification: knowed, as in "I knowed it was me you dun killed."

superguy said...

Thank you ever so much. I needed that.

Ana said...

haha I didn't know it was so difficult to die in a computer game XD
Your epitaph is hilarious!

Heather Zundel said...

This wins the internet. (And please tell me you've seen this. Prepare for literal lol moments if you have not:

Aaron Ludwig said...

Yay! You've done the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation proud.

Margaret Marshall Moon said...

Oh so fantastic!

Heather said...

I can't even say how much I love this post. I was like you. At first, I tried to be a sensible pioneer, but then I ended up only buying bullets (killing more buffalo than I could carry) and a couple pounds of flour. My family died all the time.

When I was kid, the computer lab only had one application of the game, so the class of 20-30 students would have to play the other crappy games and one lucky soul would get to play Oregon Trail. It all depended on who logged on first after Mr. Black said that we were done for the day and had time to play games. Everyone in the class -- even the kids too cool for anything -- would all just have our fingers hovering over the keyboards, hoping to type fast enough to get it. Ahhhh...memories of public school in a small town.

Kevin Keele said...

I would always name my kids things like "Your Butt" so that I was eventually treated to a screen informing me that "Your Butt has died." Which I found hilarious at the time...and now.

Grace Rex said...

Thanks for the laugh. I even enjoyed Julie's comment:)

Brent said...

I so want to play the game to make up deaths now.

ldsjaneite said...

Old Oregon Trail--a nationwide thing for the elementary kids. Everything you said I had in my classes, too. Wow. Such memories! I love your epitaph.

P.S. I had a friend who always named his people No One, Everyone, Nobody, etc. so that he got his laughs when they died.

Robyn Liebschner said...

Gosh I used to play this game religiously when I was younger. I wish we still had it... I always played it safe (though something would always god wrong.) Damn you famine!

Shelby said...

Honeslty, SO hilarious. I'd probably play like Kimberly...and then figure out you get to write your own tombstone. So then I'd commit manslaughter (what? I didn't MEAN to kill them!) and suicide:)

Carrie Liao said...

I think this is my favorite one yet :)

Birgit said...

Well, I am pretty sure I have the game somewhere... Now I have to dig it up and kill the whole family. (Serial killer in the making thanks to you...) Even though I often played the game, I never found out that I could write my own tombstone, as someone always survived. Hah!

Thanks for the smiles!

Greetings from Germany,

Grace said...

My college roommate found an old copy floating around the internet a few years back and named each of the party members after one of us, then proceeded to kill us all off. I died of dysentery.

I used to always pick the profession that only gave you like $400, then make a party with only two people. My goal was to make it as difficult for myself as possible and still make it the whole way. I used to feel so accomplished when I pulled it off.

Johanna Johnson said...

I shall go play Oregon Trail immediately. And kill everyone.

Jamie Lapeyrolerie said...

We just became Oregon Trail b/f/fs. Great post!

Anonymous said...

Organ trail isn't as fun... it defeats the purpose if there's an option to 'kill party member'

Quinn Johnson, writer of Elders of the RuneStone said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVED this game! And I totally played the Jordan Way. Spinning bullets forever.

I remember how surprised I was when I actually managed to beat it. Because, you know, EVERYONE dies of dysentery. It's just an old-timey thing.