The Oregon Trail, better known as the only educational game on school computers that was actually fun, entered the minds of thousands of nascent gamers in their K-12 days. Now, it’s fording the river of our hearts again in the nerdiest way possible—in the form of live-action role-playing (LARPing). And it sounds terrific. Emily Grosvenor at The Atlantic offers an in-depth account:
Here’s how it works: Teams of 2-4 people, many in pioneer garb, build a wagon out of paper and dowel rods before tackling ten challenges inspired by the computer game—things like floating the wagon across a kiddie pool, shooting at game with nerf guns, competing in a three-legged dysentery race to an outhouse. Instead of finding shelter, we built a tarp tent while volunteers sprayed us with water. We survived being pummeled with pool noodles by roller derby girls at the Platte River station.
The Oregon Trail Live is run by the The Willamette Heritage Center, in Salem, Ore., but it’s easy to see how the general structure of the game could be adapted for play at home, including some of the Heritage Center’s more delightfully absurd interpretations of the game’s mechanics.
On the trail, as in the game, if you killed a bison, you could only carry 200 pounds of meat with you. In the live-action game, participants face the task of pushing 200 pounds of meat up a hill—in this case, a 200 pound man in a wagon regaling the crowd with meat facts.
At least in the LARP version, no one can be that kid who spends the whole time hunting.
Read the rest at The Atlantic.
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