623: Oregon

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Oregon
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

The Oregon Trail was an early educational video game that was designed to teach children about the trials and hardships faced by pioneering settlers. The actual Oregon Trail was an overland track leading from Missouri to Oregon, and in the video game, player started his or her journey in 1848.

Most players were grade-school students. The game was very popular, and thousands of players played it monthly. In their youthful wisdom, most players brought the minimum amount of food and planned to hunt for their meals. Large animals (bison, bears, etc.) were very easy and rewarding targets, while smaller prey (rabbits, squirrels, etc.) were harder to obtain and provided less food.

The comic tries to document, as though in an historical fashion, what would have been the result if that was really how people had prepared for their journey on the Oregon Trail. With no other supplies or sources of food, the land would soon have been stripped 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, hundreds upon hundreds of people fleeing from the overpopulated, devastated Oregon becomes the focus of another video game, much like Oregon Trail in our universe.

[edit] Transcript

[Timeline, with relevant images next to each date.]
1805
[Two men stand at the edge of a cliff. One has a walking staff.]
Arrival of Lewis & Clark
1825
Early settlers arrive
1841
Oregon trail established
1843
Larger western migration begins
1848
[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.
1849
[Two men with rifles aim at something.]
Overhunting begins to devastate ecosystem
Dysentery epidemic
1850
[Tombstones. Bodies.]
Shooting deaths skyrocket
Typhoid epidemic
Measles epidemic
Cholera epidemic
1851
All mammals larger than squirrels wiped out by overhunting.
Massive famine
1852
[Sun low over a land, devoid of life. Scattered remains of corpses.]
Last survivors flee
Oregon territory abandoned
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