In the latest episode of Game/Show Jamin talks about the Apple classic game The Oregon Trail. He starts things off with a seemingly ridiculous premise that everyones favorite squirrel shooting simulator lied to us. I recommend you watch the video to experience a really interesting and light history of the The Oregon Trail but also educational games as a genre. Apparently educational games are not very good at educating people and if they are it's generally not for what they set out to do. In the end Oregon Trail does a good job teaching us about simulation and economic basics but doesn't do a great job teaching us what it's like to have actually been on the trail. Unless we find out that the majority of the time pioneers just shot and collected game, then I totally experienced that with them!

scrypt   Supporter wrote on 04/05/2016 at 06:54pm

I could see that there may be an issue regarding the scholastic merit of some "educational games," but using The Oregon Trail as a test seems misconstrued when it sounds like the original creators were simply looking for a catalyst to stir young minds to inquiry, rather than to build an actual lesson plan in game form. The original Oregon Trail started as a board game, later made into a computer game (in two weeks, mind you), for teletype game play (hardly like the game we know, despite Jamin's claim, unless you think tabletop D&D and Icewind Dale for PC are practically the same experience), and existed as such for about the first decade of it's life. It wasn't made into the game we recognize until the early 80's, with very little input from it's original creators.

I'm curious to know who heralds The Oregon Trail as "one of the most important educational games, ever to exist." The closest I could find was from this old PC Gamer article, which seems more poignant in it's understanding of the scope of the game: http://www.pcgamer.com/most-important-pc-games/2/

Once again, I feel Jamin abuses hyperbole to make a point, this time to the extent of inappropriately disparaging a game for not being more than it was ever intended to be, or could have feasibly been, at it's inception. I'm confused by some of his analogies (e.g. [4:42] Rawitsch's adjusting of event probabilities, which somehow results in alternative historical experiences in the game, or [5:44] the misrepresented association between intuitive interfaces and Lusory Attitude, and the weird implication that this made the game fun, in contrast with it's earliest concept as a teletype game.), and obviously a little disappointed in the way he went about presenting what could have been a more interesting topic, without all of the typical Game/Show platitudes.

What might be more interesting to emphasize, is that the original board game, and teletype game, played in Rawitsch's classroom was an exercise in group play, which, according to an article from New York University (http://bit.ly/1Xf7vPx), is one of the most effective ways of implementing games into education, promoting mastery goal orientation, rather than individual performance goal orientation which seems to inhibit potential learning opportunities.

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/06/2016 at 03:46am

> but using The Oregon Trail as a test seems misconstrued when it sounds like the original creators were simply looking for a catalyst to stir young minds to inquiry, rather than to build an actual lesson plan in game form.

I think the whole notion of Oregon Trail lying to us is also kind of silly. That said, those kinds of headlines get clicks and it seems a bit dodgy because to make it payoff in the video you have to do things that maybe don't make sense?

> I'm curious to know who heralds The Oregon Trail as "one of the most important educational games, ever to exist.

I would. I think the original Oregon Trail is heralded as a great game because it was impactful to so many. It may not have been the pinnacle of educational gaming but it was so deep and rich for me and I loved playing it on the Apple II and Commodore. Lots of kids grew up in the 90's having played it as it was a staple in tons of schools. You might not find a ton of thought pieces about it, but seeing games like Organ Trail and the like existing now kind of nod to it's influence.

> Once again, I feel Jamin abuses hyperbole to make a point, this time to the extent of inappropriately disparaging a game for not being more than it was ever intended to be, or could have feasibly been, at it's inception.

The video title is clickbait for sure, but I don't think the historical significance of the Oregon Trail was overblown. At least to me.

> What might be more interesting to emphasize, is that the original board game, and teletype game, played in Rawitsch's classroom was an exercise in group play, which, according to an article from New York University (http://bit.ly/1Xf7vPx), is one of the most effective ways of implementing games into education, promoting mastery goal orientation, rather than individual performance goal orientation which seems to inhibit potential learning opportunities.

Absolutely, but for whatever reason the method they chose might work for the large gaming audience? I'm not sure, I love a good deep dive into that sort of thing you mention so it wouldn't bother me smile

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