My good friend Harry Kaplan recently sent me a link to a little Oregon Trail short story by Caitlin Horrocks. The whole joke here — and it’s a cute one — is in the fun it pokes at the game’s narrative limitations. However, it’s also interesting that its storyworld could inspire an established writer in this way, even if the result is more gentle satire than gritty reality. It just reinforces my view of The Oregon Trail as the first really successful ludic narrative — more successful on a narrative level, actually, than Adventure. (Does anyone imagine herself inside Adventure‘s storyworld like so many do inside that of The Oregon Trail?) If I taught junior-high or high-school English, I might have my students each play the game and “novelize” the story that results, even at the risk of reading dozens of reenactments of the Donner Party tragedy, just to see what they came up with.
An Oregon Trail Postscript