It is great to see that there is now an Oregon Trail iPhone app because I think that there’s no better way to prepare people for the death of family member than playing this game as a child.
This game was horrifying for most of my childhood because every time I signed on and was prompted to name my family members, my initial move was to name my Oregon Trail family after my real life family. So my mom was my mom and my dad was my dad and my brother was my sister (I was a genius comedian back then), and we trekked off across America for the Pacific Northwest.
And then the most horrific turn of events would strike my family down one by one. The sorts of vicious deaths that are haunting to a child: dysentery, bitten by rattle snakes, malaria. Just awful diseases that you look up in the encyclopedia and read about the weeks of shitting yourself until you die a painful merciless death.
So the eight-year-old player sets off with his family and encounters a series of family members being killed by spider bites, the plague, diptheria, the most horrendous deaths that one could encounter and it’s all your fault that your poor mother got struck by it. If only you were better at hunting rabbits, or if only you had decided to shell out the extra cash for one more oxen. If only you didn’t get distracted when you had to shoot the bison. But no, they died because of you.
And thanks to having gone through this as a child I’m now well-prepared for a family member passing. If I could handle my parents slowly fading due to a series of infections brought on by my choice to take the river path instead of the mountain path, then that makes me more prepared for a family member dying from natural causes.
And if children today didn’t play the Oregon Trail then they wouldn’t know how to react (by playing Number Munchers instead, of course). But thanks to the iPhone, we’ll all enter our stages of grief in a timely fashion.