Holy freaking wagon tongues! Don Rawitsch, one of the creators The Oregon Trail just did an AMA on Reddit all about your favorite childhood computer game. Don answered questions from fans, and we're here to bring you the highlights. Here are all the things you never knew about the game including strategies, fun facts and more. Honestly, if you could go back in time with this information, you would be the coolest 2nd grader in your class. Maybe we would have even made it to the end of the game without a freaking case of cholera. Still bitter, TBH.
First things first. According to the Reddit AMA, the game was not invented in Oregon but rather by three college students from Minnesota. In 1971, Bill Heinemann, Paul Dillenberger, and Don created the game to use as a teaching aid. The first piece of advice Don seemed to hint at was to avoid using names of people that would make you sad if they died along your journey. Makes sense right? How many times did you have to suffer through the pixelated deaths of the character you always named after your crush? Besides, tombstones were so much better when you named your players things like 'Buttface.'
Fun fact: Don suggests fording the river typically worked if the water was 2-3 feet deep. What we wouldn't give to go back to elementary school with that gem of wisdom. Gone would be the agony of drowned oxen and broken wagon wheels. The creator also notes while he has reached the Oregon Trail in the game, he has never traveled it IRL. He did, however, read the diaries of settlers along the trail in order to make updates to the game. Another tip? In addition to keeping a substantial amount of food on hand, if you were a beginner at the game, starting as the banker would give you a solid chance of survival. If you wanted a bit more of a challenge, the farmer was your best bet.
Don also notes that hunting all the time was not the way to go. If you did, you would roll through the Rocky Mountains in the winter. Not a good call, he says.
Did you know, due to the many combinations of paths, players would have never encountered the same game twice? Pretty slick technology for the floppy disk era. Here's another thing we never thought of; the game was created so that it could be completed in 45 minutes time —the length of a school class period. Come again!? Seriously, five minutes into the game, we always had to start over because everyone was dying of dysentery. Way to make us relive that childhood trauma, Don. Just kidding, we still had the best time even though our meat spoiled and our wagon wheels broke.
We never made it to the end of The Oregon Trail, did you? Share your strategies in the comments! BTW, one Redditor pointed out during the AMA that you can play a streaming version of the old school game! See you on the trail, BB's.