Virtual travel on the Oregon Trail
As of 2011, the classic game Oregon Trail has launched on Facebook, opening the frontier to a new generation of game players.
From 1840 to 1860, some 400,000 pioneers traveled westward across the United States in search of new opportunities. The Oregon Trail stretched 3200 km across over half of the continental United States, from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon. This distance is roughly equivalent to that between London and central Turkey. In 1971, three young teachers created an educational computer game where users could launch their own wagons to travel west. It was released as a standalone game for the Apple II microcomputer in 1985.
Since then, countless American schoolchildren have grown up knowing all about the famous landmarks along the Oregon Trail. Starting from Missouri, the wagon train traveled to Council Bluffs, Iowa, across the Platte River, into Nebraska. One would be greeted the sight of Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff. Continuing west, one passed Independence Rock in Wyoming and sought to navigate the treacherous Green River, which often led to swamped wagons or drowned travellers.
Danger was a constant companion along the trail. The scourge of cholera traveled through the camps around the Platte River. On occasion, a 'greenhorn' might reach as far as the Snake River in Wyoming only to be greeted with the message, 'You have died of dysentery.' That was one of several messages that could terminate the game. Although much simplified, the game sought to convey the harsh realities of the journey that often ended in tragedy. Between 10,000 and 20,000 people died on the route.
As of September 2011, the Facebook version of the game boasts of 93,129 monthly active users. With the launch of The Oregon Trail on Facebook in 2011, a new generation of multicultural users can relive the journey to Oregon.