Being forced to play Oregon Trail in elementary school is something of a timeworn rite of passage for many American children. It's a brutally addictive game that asks players to walk through the hardscrabble life of a fictional pioneer family as they go on a punishing journey from Missouri to Oregon—snakes, dysentery, and all.
Travel Oregon, a "semi-independent agency" created by the Oregon Legislature in 2003 to fortify the state's tourism industry, is now offering the game something of a 2017 makeover. Late last month, the organization released Travel Oregon: The Game, a free game that you can play right in your internet browser. Though it isn't produced by Oregon Trail's original creators, Travel Oregon is remarkably similar in both design and feel. It mimics its antecedent's 8-bit aesthetic, and has a soundtrack of pleasant MIDI bops.
"The impetus for creating the game was to help educate folks about the range of winter activities in Oregon," Katie Meeker, Travel Oregon's Global Marketing Manager, told MUNCHIES over phone Monday. "We wanted to try to find a way to do that in an engaging way."
Travel Oregon: The Game comes with a pretty robust food and drink component, which is pretty cardinal to the real-life experience of Oregon as a tourist. "Portland's known for its food and drink," Meeker told MUNCHIES. "In terms of thinking about what makes an experience in Oregon great, that comes up a lot. It's sort of part of who we are. You will eat and drink very well."
Within the game, you can play the role of an apple farmer or winemaker (along with such vocations as yoga teacher, ski pro, rancher, fly fisherman, or, uh, surfer). You're then given the option of journeying to one of seven territories within the state and partaking in a number of activities such as foraging for truffles, getting ice cream at Salt & Straw, catching and cooking Dungeness crab, or even becoming an accidental sommelier. The list goes on.
At a variety of stores in different parts of the state, you can also purchase craft beer or artisanal coffee. Potential causes of death along your journey include falling victim to a food coma or ingesting too much kombucha. Choose your own adventure, baby!
Meeker told MUNCHIES that the development of the game took about six weeks of designing and coding. The game is playable through December 31, so go ahead and indulge your nostalgia with this elaborate tourism ad before time runs out.