The Oregon Trail was originally developed in 1971 by Don Rawitsch, then just a senior in college. He created the game as a classroom tool to help 8th grade students learn about pioneer life. Rawitsch would later be hired by MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium) to develop an updated version of the game, which quickly became a staple series in public schools throughout the country.
In The Oregon Trail, players embark on a perilous journey to the American West during the 19th century, simulating the challenges faced by pioneers. It’s a blend of history and adventure, where players must make important decisions about supply purchases, food hunting, inventory management, travel speed, weather conditions & river crossings, and injuries & disease. The game concluded when the player eventually reached Oregon or all members eventually perished.
The popularity of the series for both players & educators is a testament to the game’s ability to balance being both educational and fun.