We’re living in a golden age of immersive, narrative video games that can transport us to worlds both familiar and fantastical. As odd as it might be to consider it, none of this would be possible if it weren’t for Oregon Trail.
There’s nothing quite as impressive as tricking kids into learning about subject matter they’ve got no interest in hearing about, and even more so when said learning involves copious amounts of reading. But what Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger, the developers behind Oregon Trail, ultimately accomplished way back in 1975 with the first iteration of the game was so much more than that. Oregon Trail popularized “edutainment” in a way that’s frankly astonishing even by today’s standards.
What’s wild is that as popular and financially successful as the intellectual property went on to become, none of the original developers made a single dime from it—a fate almost as awful as dying of dysentery.
This video was created by Hodges Usry. You can see more of his videos here.