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

The video game The Oregon Trail was an educational video game released in 1971, which, in the game, players would play as a character taking a trek west along the Oregon Trail, was an overland track leading from Missouri to Oregon, and in the video game, the 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 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. With an unbelievably large influx of people all arriving in exactly the same year, and all 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, 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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