The pioneering computer game Oregon Trail enters its 40th year with a hot iPhone app and a key Facebook launch. A closer look into the game's history offers insight for all those raised in an age of educational computer games. There's also something of a parable for game developers here in the Silicon Forest about a man with a clever idea and brilliant approach, actualized with the help of state support and outside business investment, who eventually took control of his vision and built the most successful educational video game ever.
Say you're under 40 and, like most everyone else, you log into your Facebook account today. You'll notice the latest iteration of a game you played in elementary school, Oregon Trail. Only instead of rationing your resources in a classroom, you can now play for hours with friends online, spend real money in the form of facebook credits on wagon gadgetry, and, say, bomb down the Green River collecting gold coins and rescuing drowning children.
Beer enthusiasts, construction workers and a few North Williams Avenue residents stood in the cold this morning to watch an enormous crane hoist a 30-foot-tall grain silo atop Lompoc's Fifth Quarter brewery in North Portland. Among them was giddy Lompoc owner Jerry Fechter, who said the $65,000 silo will reduce his brewing costs by 25%.
The latest numbers show that Oregon's support of higher education has crumbled, faculty pay lags behind other states and graduation rates have crept below the national average.