Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Nine Things to Name Your Oregon Trail Family

Basically only prudent if you get to the point in the game where you are forced to forge high rivers with only one yoke of oxen, but “Ophelia has drowned” gives the English lit dork in all of us a reason to nod in self-satisfied agreement.

Your Mom’s Butt
Works on many levels but is for sure funniest in the event of dysentery and to some degree, snakebite.

The ambiguity of the message “Somebody has cholera” allows you to feel that this is not actually an announcement of the probable loss of a member of your crew, but rather a mere warning that the disease is out there, ravaging other parties whose supplies you might be able to steal.

SOMEbody places hilarious, suggestive blame about the status of one’s typhoid fever. Maybe SOMEbody ate some rancid bear meat and now SOMEbody is paying for it.

Lindsay Lohan
In this scenario, “exhaustion” really does mean exhaustion. Plus, the epitaph possibilities are endless.

Only for the die-hard, depressive, historically accurate types, “Cecily has a broken leg” signals the imminent death of the frailest, prettiest, and therefore most tragic group member. Throw a sad little party (a.k.a. a funeral).

Best enjoyed if the player is Karl Marx or an Ecofeminist.

Ms. Sellkirk
Best enjoyed if the player has Ms. Sellkirk as her third grade teacher.

Sha-WHOO you made it! You got through the entire game armed only with your own cleverness.

Emily Weiss writes for The Tangential and was for sure one of the die-hard historically accurate types.

23 Comments / Post A Comment


I remember giving my "wife" the name of a girl I had a crush on and then feeling very strange when she died. The trauma!


@wb Akin to that, naming a character after the dream-wrecker in your class who kissed the boy/girl you liked and having them die of dysentery was usually satisfying.


this game was just therapy to kill of your enemies/friends with, right? and to teach you about preserving the buffalo? love.


@hotdog I always shot all the buffalo. But this reminds me of when, long after Oregon Trail, my bff married herself to a celebrity in The Sims, and then her real life boyfriend went in to her game, killed the celebrity husband, and put his gravestone in the front yard.

Okay, and I helped him.


@theharpoon Yeah, I feel like most of us missed the point about preserving the buffalo. Hunting was just too much fun! Then you would always have more meat than the wagons could carry. Ah, history repeating itself.


When I was researching the "true story" behind Meek's Cutoff, I discovered this gem of a real-life Oregon trail gravestone on Wikipedia:

"Heare we beried missis Butts and 3 more."

I swear to God I wrote that exact thing on an Oregon Trail gravestone during computer lab in the third grade.

elysian fields

I'm sorry, but the only valid names are those of one's third grade classmates. Period. No substitutes accepted.


@elysian fields I used sibling names. Haha, Starbuck has dysentary! And then when I saw him later I could be all "Hey Buck, how are the shits?!?", and then laugh at him. Which I'm sure he just ignored. Or thought I was nuts. Or both.

tea for all

had to register just to comment... i would name characters variations of "Oh my God, he" or "Oh crap, she" to hilarious effect.

Anna Marquardt

@fizzywater samesies!!

Anna Marquardt

We always named ours by the "swear word/pronoun" formula, so then it would say "Shit, I broke an arm" or "Fuck, you died."


@Anna Marquardt Yes! To this day I'm still impressed that in 4th grade, Chris W. knew exactly how to spell "Douchebag." Great times at Catholic school...

Jennifer Wray@twitter

@Anna Marquardt We did the same thing, too, so that the gravestones would amuse/horrify the next players.

Cecily Squier@facebook

I *am* a pretty pretty princess.


Cecily is my middle name! I've never really seen it anywhere! I wonder where I put my "you have died of dysentery" shirt?

P.S. There's also Idunno, but "somebody" might cover that.


I will still crack up at


It popped up in a computer mirror of OT I played a few years ago, and I swear I remember it from elementary school too. Anyone?


Hahahaha "SOMEbody......". That wagon totally belongs to the WASPy pioneer family where the mom and dad are always expressing their emotions through what "the dog" wants.

"Fluffy looks sad today...I guess SOMEbody forgot to take her out last night when they were out with their friends."

"Oh really? Well, maybe if Fluffy wasn't such a bitch, SOMEbody would take her out more often!!!!"


It's super unfair that I have been unable to find a version of this for Mac. For free. For me to play now.


Uh, you guys have seen the Organ Trail, right? http://hatsproductions.com/organtrail.html

Nothing like playing that the night before Halloween with one's roommates, getting really drunk, and cursing one another out for continually getting bitten by zombies.


Reading this I remembered how I used to set the pace to grueling and rations to meager, just to see who would die first. I wonder what that says about me?


In Oregon Trail II you get to customize ages too. Which becomes less exciting than it sounds when you realize that if you make your friend, say, a 15-year-old (JUST LIKE REAL LIFE!) they are also more likely to die.


I always named a character 'has died' because I thought seeing 'has died has died' was funny. Apparently I was into meta at an early age.

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