623: Oregon

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A century later, the harrowing flight of the survivors from Oregon was dramatized in a popular video game.
Title text: A century later, the harrowing flight of the survivors from Oregon was dramatized in a popular video game.

[edit] Explanation

This comic relates to the video game The Oregon Trail, and humorously depicts the consequences to real-world Oregon if everyone had arrived in the same manner they did in the game.

The Oregon Trail was an educational video game released in 1971. In the game, players would play as a character taking a trek west along the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon. The player's journey starts in 1848 and typically takes less than one year to complete. Along the way, the player must manage resources (food, spare parts, etc.) and face risks and dangers (starvation, disease, etc.). Most players at the time were grade-school students. The game was very popular, and thousands of players played it monthly.

The game made it very easy to hunt for food. Large animals (bison, bears, etc.) were very easy and rewarding targets, where spending a single bullet could be enough to collect enough food for multiple days. There were also smaller prey available (rabbits, squirrels, etc.) which were harder to catch and provided less food. Since bullets are much lighter and cheaper than food, it was a good strategy to bring the minimum amount of food and plan to hunt for meals. Extra food can even be traded for money or other supplies, so it wasn't necessary to start the journey with anything except bullets.

The comic tries to document, as though in a historical fashion, what would have been the result if all the players had been real settlers who really had prepared for their journey on the Oregon Trail in that way. The parts before 1847 are historically accurate. Starting from 1848, however, players of the game would form an unbelievably large influx of people arriving nearly simultaneously, with very little food or supplies being brought along. Massive overhunting would soon strip the land bare, all large game slaughtered for meat, with hunger, starvation and disease soon to follow. Dysentery in particular was very common in the original game and perhaps the most infamous way to die, hence its listing as the most prominent epidemic.

The title text makes things rather recursive. In this alternate reality, thousands upon thousands of people fleeing from the overpopulated, devastated Oregon becomes the focus of another video game, much like The Oregon Trail in our universe.

[edit] Transcript

History of 19th-century Oregon
[Timeline, with relevant images next to various dates.]
[Two men stand at the edge of a cliff. One has a walking staff.]
Arrival of Lewis & Clark
Early settlers arrive
Oregon Trail established
Larger western migration begins
[A horse is pulling a covered wagon. A gun peeks out the back.]
Huge wave of 500,000+ settlers arrives from Missouri. Largely children and adolescents, most bring nothing but cartloads of bullets for hunting.
[Cueball and Megan with rifles aim at something.]
Overhunting begins to devastate ecosystem
Dysentery epidemic.
[Tombstones and bodies.]
Shooting deaths skyrocket
Typhoid epidemic
Measles epidemic
Cholera epidemic
All mammals larger than squirrels wiped out by overhunting
Massive famine
[Sun low over a land, devoid of life. Scattered remains of corpses and skeletons.]
Last survivors flee
Oregon territory abandoned

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