The Oregon Trail: Fun with Dysentery

A couple months ago, my well meaning and delightful wife bought me what she considered to be the best Christmas present ever: an iPod touch. As an audiophile, I enjoy music, and this seemed like a great way for me to be able to listen to a tune. It has given me hours of entertainment.
It has also given me dysentery.
You remember in Elementary School when you had indoor recess? Your entire class would fight for the right to play The Oregon Trail on the computer. These fights were often violent and bloody, so much so that a Vietnam vet might have experienced terrible flashbacks.
For the uninitiated, The Oregon Trail was an “educational” computer game that allowed you to hunt buffalo and travel from Independence, MO to, obviously, Oregon. (It’s a good thing they weren’t traveling to New Mexico. New Mexico Trail just sounds stupid.) Throughout the adventure, you had to worry about diseases such as dysentery, which literally translates into “diarrhea until you fall down and die.” (editor’s note: does not actually translate into that)
I thought my days on the the Oregon Trail had passed me by, so imagine my surprise when I open up the app store and there it is. In all it’s buffalo stench, typhoid fever glory, there stood my childhood. I immediately downloaded it.
That’s when I remembered something I had clearly forgotten: The Oregon Trail is the most frustrating game ever created. You can just be having a nice relaxing stroll to Oregon when, without warning, a snake would bite you, and since this is the 1800’s, you die. It’s okay though. You still have four more in your party. Then there are three after Mary wanders off (stupid Mary!), two after John gets a fever. Sally gets trampled by buffalo and then there is just one.
You will be incredibly upset with your party for being so stupid, when you remember it’s just a game. You can turn it off and go have a snack, take a nap, go to the store, and you don’t have to worry about having your wagon robbed or freezing to death. You may not win Oregon Trail, but you definitely enjoy that bag of Funyuns you can go eat.
Since The Oregon Trail is an educational game, I do feel obligated to share what I learned. First, being a pioneer was hard work. Second, every disease in the 1800’s ended with you dying. Literally all of them. You have a cold, you die. You stub your toe, you die. You might die if you had a bad enough back itch.
Of course, the most important lesson: keep your eye on Mary. She is stupid and will wonder off.

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5 thoughts on “The Oregon Trail: Fun with Dysentery

  1. I totally remember the Oregon Trail game! Sixth grade. 1986. I recall giving someone a bloody lip as I elbowed my way into one of the two seats in front of the giant computer system. So giant it was on a rolling cart. Loved your post. Funny!

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