Oregon Trail on Facebook: Screenshots and video

The world's most popular educational game will soon arrive on the world's most popular social network--Oregon Trail is being reborn on Facebook.

When we interviewed the three Minnesotans who invented the game 40 years ago for our January 19 cover story, not even they were sure who--if anyone--still owned the rights to the game.

As it turns out, someone does and they have big plans for the classic game.

The new old pioneer family.
The new old pioneer family.

After three Carleton students dreamed up the game in 1971, it became the flagship product for the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, an educational software company. MECC put the game into the hands of roughly 65 million players all over the world. But after MECC was bought by the Learning Company in the late '90s, the game faded from prominence.

Now a part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the Learning Company kept Oregon Trail under the radar until it was resurrected as an iPhone app in 2008. The app has been downloaded about 2.9 million times. With those figures in mind, TLC head Tony Bordon thought it was time Oregon Trail got a social life.

The only part that anyone ever cared about -- the hunt -- gets a makeover.
The only part that anyone ever cared about -- the hunt -- gets a makeover.

"It has tremendous nostalgia," he says. "The level of awareness is now being spread down to a younger audience."

A sneak peek is now available on YouTube, revealing the new look and feel of the game. Players can hit the trail on February 2.

From the looks of the trailer, the gameplay will be quite similar to the iPhone app, with a much more cartoony look than the classic versions of the '80s and '90s. Bordon says users will be able to invite their Facebook friends to travel the trail with them, customize their wagons and tombstones, and play enhanced hunting games.

The question is, will dying of dysentery feel nearly as good on the social network?


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