So why "Oregon Trail"?

Climate Refugees are a theme of the story (“A Full Life”) that inspired me to create “The Climate Trail".” Even today we have climate refugees escaping harsh conditions for the promise of a better life. For example this story:

‘Food Doesn’t Grow Here Anymore. That’s Why I Would Send My Son North.’

A stark choice for some Guatemalans: watch crops wither, and maybe die with them, or migrate.

So when I read about the travels of Rue in “A Full Life” and stories about climate refugees the idea of traveling to a better place seemed like a natural for game play.

From 1994 to 1999 I worked at an amazing company known as The Lightspan Partnership, helping to create educational ‘adventures’ for the K-6 grade segments, games that eventually were launched on the Sony Playstation. I worked with some of the best people I’ve ever known and got to talk to educators and educational game designers all over the USA.

One of the companies I got to visit was the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC). MECC is best know as the publisher of “The Oregon Trail..” In “The Oregon Trail” the player assumes the role of a wagon leader guiding a party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon's Willamette Valley via a covered wagon in 1848.

One of the versions of “The Oregon Trail”’s title screens.

One of the versions of “The Oregon Trail”’s title screens.

A bit of history about this game:

On December 3rd, 1971, the original version of the game was released on the HP 2100 system by developers Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann and Paul Dillenberger as an educational tool to teach children about the experiences of 19th-century pioneers. In 1948, the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) hired Rawitsch to rebuild the game with events and player choices while traveling the trail. Subsequent versions of the game were released on CDC Cyber, Apple II, Atari 8-Bit, DOS, Macintosh and Windows computer systems.

Over the years 65 million copies of the Oregon Trail have been sold.

However, I don’t intend to just create a “post climate apocalypse” version of the same game. More to say about that later.

William Volk