Not Everyone Played The Oregon Trail, You Know

The Oregon Trail holds a special place in many American's hearts, because it's a game they played when they were both young, and at school. If you were British or Australian, though, you played something else.

In the 1980s, many schools in both countries were equipped with BBC Micro computers, often the first such devices schools employed on a widespread basis. So for a generation of schoolkids, the concept of video games and education went hand-in-hand with the Micro. And what went hand-in-hand with the Micro? These amazing games.

Well, they weren't amazing games. Seeing them in the cold, harsh light of 2010 reveals them to be little more than typing trainers mingling with puzzle games, the two fused with a glue made entirely from cruelty. These games did not lead you by the hand, did not have an easy mode, and did not dazzle the senses with cutting-edge graphics or 5.1 sound.

Like The Oregon Trail, they asked you questions, and if you did not answer them correctly or quickly enough, you were often met with death. Is that how small children should be taught life lessons by a computer? That to trifle with their pre-determined responses is an error worth swift and deadly punishment?

If we want our kids to grow up fearing computers and the threat they pose, then yes, I'd say it is. It's served a generation of British and Australasian schoolchildren well, there's no reason it can't serve another.

I've pasted clips of some of the more notable and memorable games above, for Americans and Europeans to marvel at and for Commonwealth readers to simply reminisce. One game I couldn't find footage for, Raft Away River, I've pasted a picture below. In the absence of footage, know that it was basically a Professor Layton puzzle, only you needed to cross a river by building a raft. And yes, I'm pretty sure if you did something wrong, everybody died.


    Holy wow, I remember playing Granny's Garden as a kid in grade 2 in 1996, when our classroom consisted of a BBC Micro (I think) and an Apple (II I guess, all I remember was that it had a game with Franklin the Turtle, SimTown and Claris Office).
    I wiki'd Granny's Garden a little while ago to much nostalgia, but had completely forgotten about Podd!

    OH MY GOD! I remember PODD from Grade 2. "Can podd swim?"

    I recall we played it as a class, and if we said something PODD couldn't do, we weren't allowed to offer anymore suggestions.

    Pff, Dragon World is what all the cool kids played.

    Oh wow, the memories. We used to have an hour on Friday afternoon when the entire class would sit down and make choices.
    We died so many times and hardly got anywhere, but it was *still* the highlight of the week.

    Oh man, I remember Granny's Garden. Not the others, though. I was more in the age of Maths Blaster and Hocus Pocus.

    when i was school it was the original Sim City, Lemmings, some monster truck game and Maths Blaster.

    from the beginning of High school till the end i also remember a game where enter a room and were asked question about history that was included with encarta encyclopedia

    I never played any of these, but I sure played the Oregon Trail, and I'm Australian.

    Anybody remember a game for the BBC that involved a telephone box, or something similar, and was bit like Grannys Garden?

    My school computers only had 3 games on them. Maths Circus, a reading one that featured a worm and one about fairy tales.

    Never played Oregon Trail, but we had one similar about the Aussie Gold Rush; can't remember the name. Only thing I do remember was being excited whenever they told you you had 'X amount in your 'kitty' - was how I found out about kitty's non-fluffy definition.

    Other games were Maelstrom (Asteroid clone), Ribbit (I think it was called; you controlled a frog who had to eat as many bugs as possible), and Glider (the awesome you're-a-paper-airplane-that-must-escape-a-house-of-ordinary-horrors like fans, vents...I think there was a cat too) - all on macs. Glider was especially cool coz it was on the laptop a kid could take home for a day or so! Unreal!

    This was all back in Year 5/6 (1995/96).

    Where in the world is CARMEN SANDIEGO?

    Michelle Tarpey - The game is called Gold Fields and you can still play it if you get DOSbox (old system emulator)

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