Load up your wagon! It’s time to hit the Oregon Trail. The classic floppy disk game for Apple II is back in its original form and available to play on desktop and mobile. Here’s how to play the original Oregon Trail game online for free.
Play The Original Oregon Trail Game Online
You can play the original Oregon Trail game online right here on this page. An HTML5 version of the game is embedded below. If you don’t see it, then your web browser might not be able to display the game. Additional options on mobile and desktop are mentioned in the next section.
The Original Oregon Trail Game: Remembering A Classic
Anyone who was in grade school in the 1980s or 1990s will probably remember the classic 1990 MECC version of The Oregon Trail. Playing the Oregon Trail game at school was a rite of passage for Generation X. Public schools began installing computer labs, and school administrators quickly realized that computer games could be a valuable learning tool.
The game was designed to teach school children about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. In the game, players assume the role of a wagon leader and must guide their party of settlers safely across the western United States.
The Oregon Trail game was often the only fun entertainment option provided in school computer labs. For many students, the options were either Oregon Trail or something else like a typing practice game.
What Makes The Oregon Trail Game Educational?
The premise of the Oregon Trail game is simple. You lead a party of pioneers in a covered wagon from Independence, Missouri to Oregon’s Willamette River.
The Oregon Trail incorporates educational topics like math, planning, discovery, improvisation, and historical simulations into gameplay. Plus mini-game adventures like hunting and river crossings add to the fun. In many ways, the original Oregon Trail game was ahead of its time. School administrators are only now starting to discover how powerful gaming can be to the education process.
- Preparation: Before you begin your journey, you must first buy provisions at The General Store. Your supplies will help determine your party’s outcome. During your travels, you’ll need to make critical decisions on resting, food rations, hunting, and river crossing methods. Players also get to select the time of year to start their journey. The game is a race to reach Oregon before the winter and there are pros and cons to when to start your journey.
- Hunting: One of the most important aspects of the game was hunting. Players used guns and bullets either purchased or found in abandoned wagons to hunt wild animals for food. Players had the ability to hunt a variety of animals depending on their location in the game. For example, deer were more common closer to the Mississippi, and Elk closer to the Mountain West region. Different sized animals yielded different amounts of food. Bison yielded the most, while rabbits and squirrels yielded the least. The maximum amount of meat that a player could haul back to their wagon was limited to 100–200 pounds.
- Death: Just like in real life, there were many ways to die or fall ill in the game. Illnesses included broken bones, snakebite, measles, typhoid, cholera, exhaustion, and dysentery. Rest and care could cure an illness, but there was no guarantee. Members of your party could also die from accidents like drowning during a river crossing. Your oxen were also subject to illness and death.
- Scoring: If a player is successful in reaching Oregon, points are awarded based on several criteria. This includes the player’s chosen profession, health, and the number of surviving party members, and remaining supplies and money.
Who Made The Original Oregon Trail Game?
The company behind the original Oregon Trail game was MECC (Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium). Founded in 1973, their mission was to provide computer services to Minnesota schools.
From 1973 to 1991, MECC was funded by the state of Minnesota. But in 1991, management decided to spin the company off on its own. In 1994, MECC filed an IPO and was quickly acquired by SoftKey (renamed The Learning Company) a few months later. Mattel agreed to acquire The Learning Company in 1998 but took on financial losses before the deal was complete. Mattel struggled to keep their acquisition stable and massive layoffs in Minnesota resulted in the MECC group disbanding. Mattel’s acquisition of The Learning Company resulted in a $3.6B loss and is widely considered one of the worst takeovers in history.
Oregon Trail Background Image For Zoom Or Microsoft Teams
Download this virtual Oregon Trail background image for Zoom or Microsoft Teams to impress your coworkers and show your love for The Oregon Trail game. It’s certain to be a great conversation starter.
More Ways To Play The Oregon Trail Games
In addition to being able to play The Oregon Trail game online, there are several variations of Oregon Trail available on desktop, iOS, and Android. There are also(Amazon link) handheld versions ($16) and an(Amazon link) Oregon Trail card game ($25).
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Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.