'Oregon Trail' online game boosts interest in Ore. tourism – kgw.com

KGW Staff
10:44 a.m. PST January 15, 2015

SALEM, Ore. – Now that the classic computer game “The Oregon Trail” is available online for free, state officials said it seems to be piquing people’s interest in Oregon tourist attractions, too.

According to Travel Oregon, if millennials are excited about something in the Pacific Northwest, it can translate into big money. And leaders at the Oregon Historical Society said the Oregon Trail game has many of these young adults clamoring for a covered wagon fix.

“Many of them have read about it and have played the game and know some of the dangers that came with coming out from the Midwest,” said Kerry Tymchuk, Executive Director for the Oregon Historical Society.

The game was originally created to teach school children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life along the Oregon Trail. Each player tries to lead a group in covered wagons from the Midwest to Oregon without dying.

Nowadays, millennials are interested in learning about how Oregon has evolved into such a popular place to live.

“It’s what all those pioneers came to Oregon for in the first place; the fertile soil and the pristine water. Now because of those things, we have award winning wine, amazing hops,” said Travel Oregon Marketing Director Linea Gagliano. “We just think it will really impact the industry, which is a big industry. It’s $9.6 billion in 2013.”

Fans of the game told KGW it’s very tough to win the game and stay alive, but the tough online trek only adds to the real-life appeal of Oregon.

KGW put it to the test by asking part of the TV staff to try playing the game. Within minutes, Matt Zaffino broke his arm. Soon after that, Art Edwards came down with the measles. Then, Laurel Porter got a fever and Reggie Aqui just became exhausted. Reporter Maggie Vespa was the only one who made it to the end; everyone else perished along the way.

But no matter how the game ends each time, Oregon tourism officials said this added attention will always be a win for the state.

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