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Real-life game seeks to rediscover The Oregon Trail

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You have died of dysentery.

Few games have left their mark on modern American culture quite as effectively as The Oregon Trail, a history lesson text adventure played in U.S. schools through the 1980s and '90s.

The resource management game taught kids about the vicissitudes of life for 19th century families heading west to find a new life. Now, it's a go-to source for nostalgic recollections of days in the middle school computer lab.

But some grown-ups are taking their fond memories one step further; they're trying to recreate the classic as a Live Action Role Playing game (LARP).

The Atlantic reports how The Willamette Heritage Center, in Salem, Ore has staged a live version of the game for the past three years.

Teams of players dress up in pioneer duds and tackle live versions of challenges from the game, all of which are good humored and a bit silly. They have to float a (paper) wagon across a children's pool. They have to shoot things with nerf guns, recreating the game's great bison hunts. They build tents in a storm, provided by volunteers with garden hose pipes.

"If you've played the game you realize how shockingly boring it was," said a co-organizer Kelly Williams Brown. "It has all of these touchstones that have made it into the culture. We thought: Someone has to do this."

The Atlantic's Emily Grosvenor played the game. "On the trail, as in the game, if you killed a bison, you could only carry 200 pounds of meat with you," she wrote. "In the live-action game, participants face the task of pushing 200 pounds of meat up a hill; in this case, a 200 pound man in a wagon regaling the crowd with meat facts."

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