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The Oregon Trail (Apple II Edition)

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I'm a long-time fan of the Oregon Trail computer game (and I've been thinking about all things Oregon Trail lately). I remember first encountering the game on an Apple IIe computer during the second grade -- it fascinated me. Why did my oxen keep dying? How come people kept getting dysentery and breaking their legs? Why can't I just play this game all day?! In later years, I bought an Apple IIgs for the sole purpose of playing Oregon Trail. It didn't fascinate me quite as much, though it did bring back memories.

Good old Wikipedia brings us a complete history of The Oregon Trail. The game was originally developed in the early 70's, designed for use in a history class one of the developers was teaching. After the initial release, development moved to the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC), which was a rather interesting state agency that eventually produced a bunch of educational software.

The game itself guides the player through a virtual trip down the Oregon Trail, starting with provisioning the wagon, selecting the party members, and then setting out on the journey. You could choose to play the game as a banker, a carpenter, or a farmer -- this affected how much money you started out with, and thus the difficulty of the game. (If you completed the game as the farmer, which was completely impossible for me in the second grade, you'd get an extra-high score at the end.)

You can read more at Wikipedia, but there are a variety of other excellent Oregon Trail resources on the web. Gaming Our Way Through History discusses the game from an educator's perspective. The Educational Software Classics site has detailed info on the game's creators, the game's innovations, and some screenshots (scroll down). Finally, if you're on Windows and running Firefox, you can Play Oregon Trail on VirtualApple. The rest of us can try out Westward Trail, a web-based Oregon Trail clone with updated graphics.

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Mattel Unveils New Uno Edition for Colorblind Players
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Mattel

On the heels of International Colorblind Awareness Day, Mattel, which owns Uno, announced it would be unveiling a colorblind-friendly edition of the 46-year-old card game.

The updated deck is a collaboration with ColorADD, a global organization for colorblind accessibility and education. In place of its original color-dependent design, this new Uno will feature a small symbol next to each card's number that corresponds with its intended primary color.

As The Verge points out, Mattel is not actually the first to invent a card game for those with colorblindness. But this inclusive move is still pivotal: According to Fast Co. Design, Uno is currently the most popular noncollectible card game in the world. And with access being extended to the 350 million people globally and 13 million Americans who are colorblind, the game's popularity is sure to grow.

Mattel unveils color-friendly Uno deck
Mattel

[h/t: The Verge

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fun
Lightning-Fast Teen Sets New Rubik’s Cube World Record
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In less time than it takes some people to open a pickle jar, 15-year-old Patrick Ponce can solve a Rubik’s Cube. His total time of 4.69 seconds makes him the new holder of the world record for fastest 3-by-3 Rubik’s Cube completion, as highlighted by Compete (and seen in the video below).

Ponce achieved the impressive feat of dexterity at a tournament in Middletown, Virginia, on September 2. He takes the title from the previous Rubik’s Cube speed record holder, Feliks Zemdegs, who solved the puzzle in 4.73 seconds at a competition in Australia in December 2016.

But the teenager may not hold his new position at the top for very long: Expert Rubik's Cubers have been steadily lowering the speed record beneath the 5-second mark since 2015. And human competitors still have a long way to go before solving a cube in 0.887 seconds—that’s the record that was set by a robot in March of 2017.

[h/t Compete]

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