Title: Oregon Trail
Source: Software cabinet in Satterlee
300, School of Education, SUNY Potsdam. More product information
Playing Time: Games vary, at least
Software Release Date: 1996
Cost: $14.95 http://www.shopmattel.com/Product.asp?OID=4038431&SC=0120056015
Macintosh or Windows
Number of Players: 1
Special Equipment/Facilities Needed:
Subject Area: Social Studies--American
Objectives: To successfully navigate
the Oregon Trail to one of several west coast towns by immersing the child
into the life on the wagon trail.
Brief Description: The child heads
a wagon train going west, and, through manipulation of supplies, the trail
itself, and the weather, crosses the plains to California or Oregon.
Every game is different due to small changes in computer-controlled variables
as well as items that the player can change.
Entry Capabilities Required: Some
knowledge of the time period, as well as good math skills.
Relevance to objectives: 5 (The
child is immersed into moving west and learns what life was like.
The child has to correctly manipulate many aspects of life on the trail,
which increases thinking skills while being fun and entertaining.)
The game was well designed to realistically portray the westward movement
during the 19th century. Different elements in the game ensure that
no two games are exactly alike, insuring that, once familiar with the game,
children will want to play again. It teaches about cause and effect, and
greatly stimulates critical thinking skills as well as decision making
Provides practice of relevant skills:
5 (The child needs to learn about life skills as well as math.
Also, critical thinking skills are practiced with every decision made on
Likely to arouse/maintain interest:
3 (The game is interesting, but complex. If disheartened, the child
may lose interest quickly and become frustrated with constant failure and
having to start back at the beginning.)
Likely to be comprehended clearly:
2 (Much of the game had to be learned as the child went, the instructions
are not clear. The game dumps the child off at the beginning and
then the child has to teach themselves how to best manuver through the
Technical quality (durable, attractive):
4 (The game is put together well and is graphically well done. Different
facets of the game, such as the hunting screen and talking to people, make
Game: Winning dependent on player actions (rather
than chance): 3 (A combination of both.
There are computer-controlled variables that are totally chance, but the
child's ability to control player actions and life along the trail make
the game 50-50)
Simulation: Validity of game model (realistic,
accurate depiction): 3 (Rather accurate
portrayal of what settlers went through. The child learns about the
important decisions settlers had to make everyday.)
Evidence of effectiveness (e.g. field-test results):
3 (Reviews have been mixed. They are available here http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00002SANH/qid=951418869/sr=1-2/102-2631295-2912038)
Clear directions for play: 2 (Directions
somewhat unclear, especially when starting out)
Effectiveness of debriefing: 2 (The
end of the game doesn't give any hints towards having a more successful
game next time)
The introduction could have been more clear because when the child starts
out it is very confusing as to what she needs and what she doesn't.
The directions are complicated at the beginning, even though simply playing
the game is easy.
Reviewer: Amanda Ciampolillo
Position: Student in EDUC 410
Date Reviewed: February 22, 2000
Computer System Reviewed on: Macintosh
G3 233, 64mb ram.