Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Computer Lab Nostalgia

I read some huge exciting news today via the little birds on Twitter: Facebook versions of Carmen Sandiego and Oregon Trail will be released in February!

Someone mentioned in the comments on this article that she remembered playing these games 20 years ago. Which caused me to realize "Holy crap, it really HAS been 20 years! How is that even possible?!" You see the problem here is that someone who can clearly remember things that happened 20 years ago must certainly be a grown up, and I am certainly not one of those.

But this realization got me to thinking about the good ol' days in the computer lab at my elementary school. My school got a computer lab when I was in 3rd grade, and let me tell you, it was a BIG. FREAKIN. DEAL. I think some PTA members may have sold organs on the black market to fundraise for that thing or something. It was awesome--each of us got to use a computer at the same time. And the computers had games! Two of them! Those games were Oregon Trail and....something else. I think maybe it had dragons? And something about designing your dream bedroom? Anyway, Oregon Trail was clearly the superior choice. I have such fond memories of watching my little green oxen plod across my tiny black monitor, and my incredible inability to shoot anything in my efforts to hunt. Seriously, that buffalo could stand right in front of me and stare me in the eye, and I wouldn't figure out how to shoot it.

A year or so later, my family got a computer at home, and in addition to Oregon Trail, we acquired several different versions of the Carmen Sandiego games. Each of these games of course included about 7 installation disks (and I seem to recall a fair amount of swearing from my parents when the computer didn't seem to want to recognize them in the right order) and a world almanac or similar reference, which was of course absolutely necessary for answering questions in the game. Oh, life before the internet. (I admit, I do sort of miss those pages in the middle with the pictures of all the countries' flags.) I'm curious to see how they've modified the game to make it a little more challenging in the age of Wikipedia.

Do you have any fond memories of early computer games or experiences? Are you as crazy excited as I am for these games?


  1. So. Dad got a new computer when I was in 6th grade and it had a COLOR MONITOR (I wrote it just like that in capital letters in my diary it was that important). I so desperately wanted him to get a Commodore 64 so I could play cool games, but no go. Something about him wanting a "real computer."

  2. Aw man, if all he wanted was a "real computer", why did he need a color monitor? He should have saved the color monitor fund toward games, clearly. Also, there should be a dramatic reading of your 6th grade diary sometime--I think it could be quite entertaining!

  3. I think what happened in the 6th grade diary, stays in the 6th grade diary.