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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Live-Action Oregon Trail Game Coming to Oregon

Posted by Alex Zielinski on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 at 12:14 PM

It could happen to you!
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Let's be real: The Oregon Trail computer game was a soul-shaping staple in the life of every single American child who grew up in the 80s and 90s (apparently, the Oregon Trail game still exists today, but it looks nothing like its adored ancestor). Whether it opened your eyes to the perils of river-crossing (always hire an guide) or prepared you for your inevitable death by dysentery, the game surely had a small part in forming the person you are today. Or at least taught you that Oregon existed.

Despite the game's 8-bit death years ago, it looks like Salem is resurrecting its premise in the story's original form: Live.

On September 29, the Willamette Heritage Center will host Oregon Trail Live, a competition between pioneering teams to reach the end of the Oregon Trail by completing a series of somewhat realistic and ridiculous tasks. For example:

- Shooting as many Willamette University students dressed as buffalo as you can with a Nerf gun.
- Pushing a 200-pound man up a hill in a wheelbarrow.
- Digging the perfect grave to fit your companions (or yourself).
- Participating in a three-legged dysentery race to the outhouse.
- Repairing a wagon wheel.
- "Rafting down Columbia," aka running through a gauntlet of roller derby gals beating you with pool noodles.

You get the idea. The event was the brain child of Statesman Journal reporter Kelly Brown, who wanted to connect the loved computer game to the actual area it represents. "There are families here whose ancestors made that trip, it's a big part of this town's history," says Brown. "And it's also a cultural reference. I want to make Salem fun by providing a little culture shock and a little community bonding."

More after the jump!

Brown hopes to see at least forty teams involved in the upcoming event, ranging in all ages and pioneer abilities. "Sure, the kids who grew up on this game know what it's about, but I want to make it interesting for everyone," says Brown. "I'm hoping all sorts of people show up."

The Saturday event will be followed by a old-timey hoe-down offering booze and dancing. Just like the Oregon Trail you remember.

Fueled by grants and sponsorships, the event could become a fixture in the city; Brown says she would "absolutely love" the game to be a yearly event. To register as a team, or find out more about the LARP-esque pioneer adventure, check out the event's website.

On the site, a FAQ list asks, "Why are you doing this?"

Brown's reply: "Because someone had to."

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