Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oregon Trail & Thirteenth Child

I have great memories of playing Oregon Trail, back in the late 80s, when the game looked something like this:

Now, Oregon Trail looks something like this:

Something to keep in mind if you’re considering playing the updated version with a young child who will name the people in the wagon after best friends, family members, and pets, only to see them rapidly die, followed by overwrought burial scenes.

In a giant leap of free association, playing Oregon Trail reminded me of this YA book I read a few years back: Thirteenth Child, by Patricia Wrede.  It’s the first book of the Frontier Magic series, and apparently the second book, Across the Great Divide, came out at the beginning of August.  I wanted to like this book so much, but it felt like the novel was perpetuating stereotypes and rigid gender norms, rather than exploring or exploding them.   I’ll have to check out the second book to see if this problem gets worse or better. 

Even though I was disappointed by the book, I'm positive that if you spliced spliced together Oregon Trail and Thirteenth Child, it would be one awesome, child-unfriendly game.

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