July 31 2021
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Previous story A New Spin On A Classic Video Game Gives Native Americans Better Representation Next story
  It's like a trope to make Native American people seem primitive somehow.   The real Oregon Trail wasn't a positive story for Native Americans. The settlers kept coming, and the government forced tribes into bad deals.  

Story by ANNA KING - Story Source
Published on Thursday May 13, 2021 - 8:42 PM
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Jazz Halfmoon, 38, remembers playing the educational video game Oregon Trail as a reward for doing well in class. "It was on a super-old computer," she says. "The green screen was like the only color."

She says it was really exciting, and the kids would often clamor and fight over who could play the game at their school on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, in northeast Oregon.

Halfmoon says, "I remember being like, 'Oh, like the Indians killed off somebody in your wagon train ... and then being like, 'Oh, we're Indians, you know.' "

A generation of kids like Halfmoon grew up playing settlers heading west on the Oregon Trail. They remember it mostly for the moment — wait for it — their party died of dysentery. Now, a new spin on the wagon train game focuses on more accurately representing Native Americans and includes new storylines and playable Native American characters.

The company Gameloft tackled the redesign of Oregon Trail for Apple Arcade just in time for the increase in worldwide play because of the coronavirus pandemic. The game came out in April. Its target audience: the now-40-year-old original fans and their kids. And more Native American players.

Gameloft Brisbane creative director Jarrad Trudgen had to root out historical inaccuracies and clichés about Native American culture.

"Well, as a white, middle-class Australian, I don't think I can really speak to that," he says. "I'd like help with that. And I'd like to talk to some Native Americans and some Native American history professors."

So he brought in three Indigenous historians. They listened to early test music for the game and said, back off the drums and flutes! And don't use broken stilted English...