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Quiz: How Would You Have Died on the Oregon Trail?

Liberty Hardy

Senior Contributing Editor

Liberty Hardy is an unrepentant velocireader, writer, bitey mad lady, and tattoo canvas. Turn-ons include books, books and books. Her favorite exclamation is “Holy cats!” Liberty reads more than should be legal, sleeps very little, frequently writes on her belly with Sharpie markers, and when she dies, she’s leaving her body to library science. Until then, she lives with her three cats, Millay, Farrokh, and Zevon, in Maine. She is also right behind you. Just kidding! She’s too busy reading. Twitter: @MissLiberty

Sponsored by …And Then You Die of Dysentery: Lessons in Adulting from the Oregon Trail by Lauren Reeves.

Pack your wagons, find your ride-or-(literally) die friends, and roll up to Matt’s General Store with a sack of cash—it’s time to hit the Oregon Trail, twenty-first-century style! …And Then You Die of Dysentery is the perfect send-up to the sometimes frustrating, always entertaining, and universally beloved Oregon Trail computer game. Featuring a four-color design in the game’s iconic 8-bit format, alongside pop culture references galore, the book offers 50 humorous, snarky life lessons gleaned from the game’s most iconic moments—it’s the ultimate trip down memory lane . . . all the way to the Willamette Valley.

One of the best summers I ever had as a child was the summer before fifth grade, when we borrowed a school computer. I spent almost every day on that thing, playing Lemonade Stand and Oregon Trail from sunrise to sunset.

Thanks to the internet, I still play those games. They’re not quite the 8-bit versions of my childhood, but they’re still satisfying. And I’m still not very good at them. Especially Oregon Trail.

Created in the 1970s, the original game was designed to teach school children about the life of a 19th-century pioneer on the Oregon Trail. (SPOILER: NONE OF IT WAS GOOD.) The player must lead a party of settlers from Independence, Missouri, to Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 1848.

At the start of the game, you have to figure out how much to spend on supplies. Will you need warmer clothes, or should you spend more on healthy cattle instead? Who will you be? Do you want to be a banker and have more money, or be a carpenter and have the ability to fix things? And when should you leave??? You can ask for advice, but ultimately, it’s on you. It’s all very stressful. JUST LIKE LIFE.

Needless to say, along the way, things always go wrong. Your wagon breaks an axle, a thief steals your food, you get lost, you get measles, typhoid, cholera, etc. The fun part about it (if you’re a morbid little monkey like me) is if you die, you get to write your epitaph on a headstone. Yep, this was a game for kids.

Barely anyone ever survives the Oregon Trail. What would happen to you if you tried it? Take out quiz and find out. In the words of another pioneer, Axl Rose: You gonna dieeeeeeeeeeeeee!