Growing up in the 1990s, I am quite familiar with The Oregon Trail computer game, in which you lead a wagon train along the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to the Williamette Valley. The game, while primitive by today’s standards, was entertaining for a variety of reasons, including naming your party members after your friends and laughing hysterically when you’d see the message “Bill has died of dysentery”.
But because the game was dated at the time, there was little hope that kids growing up today would be able to enjoy The Oregon Trail like we did on our blocky Macintosh computers. That’s about to change, because on Monday, Minecraft Education announced they would be releasing a new version of The Oregon Trail.
It’s time to bring one of the most iconic games to life and reimagine it as a Minecraft world. Partnering with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Minecraft Education is proud to deliver The Oregon Trail Experience to educators and students around the world. Exclusively in Minecraft: Education Edition, classrooms can play through The Oregon Trail in Minecraft, from Independence, Missouri to the Oregon Coast.
Over 15 learning experiences along the way enrich learning with activities in Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Visual Arts, and more and reach students regardless of grade level. Students can also add their own paths to the game and create their own 19th century communities along the journey.
In all honesty, I can’t remember much of anything about the “learning experiences” in The Oregon Trail. But with that being said, I am still quite excited that my younger cousins (who all like Minecraft in one form or another) will get the same chance to play The Oregon Trail and treat their friends’ cholera like I did.
All in all, I have no idea if kids playing The Oregon Trail today will take to it like we did decades ago. But if sticking a Minecraft skin on the game works, I really can’t complain all that much – maybe next, we’ll get a new and improved Carmen Sandiego game. That series of games was a great way to teach kids about geography 20 years ago, and would probably still be a viable option today. If kids can’t stop looking at screens, you might as well teach them things and try not to pull them away.