Kiera Died from a Gunshot Wound

No, no, it’s not what you think. My Kiera is alive and well, and right here happily dozing on my feet. It’s the Kiera from The Oregon Trail.

Cait and I have been playing this computer game she got for Christmas. It’s designed to teach children about the realities of 19th century pioneer life on the trail.

The Learning Company explains: The game helps kids build real-life decision-making and problem-solving skills; they have to choose their wagon party, manage a budget to buy supplies, read maps, plan their route, and guide their team through the wilderness. They also have to develop solutions to help their family survive the dangers of the long journey, including raging rivers, buffalo stampedes, sickness, starvation — and, in our case, even death by g unshot wound.

At the beginning of the game, you have to select who you’re going to be, your profession, and the names and ages of the other people in your party. For Cait’s first game, she named herself, me, Andrew, Kiera, Graidy, and Finnegan. We’d made it all the way to the Platte River from Independence, MO, where Andrew was the first to die of starvation. (Being the first game, Cait hadn’t quite planned out her supplies adequately, and didn’t realize that along with hunting–iffy at best–she could have also fished and gathered.) Then Kiera died of a g unshot wound from a hunting accident. But the rest of us survived cold, hunger, and wagons tipping over to make it to Oregon, where we settled on 326 acres and became valuable members of the community. Along the way, we learned a lot about the history of life on the Oregon Trail.

The game was so captivating that when the characters of Andrew and then Kiera died, Cait and I found ourselves feeling quite dispirited, even though Andrew was sitting at the table with us, and Kiera was lying in her usual spot by the door. (Weird and a little disconcerting how that works.) We learned our lesson. We both agreed after that to stick to fictitious names.

We’ve played several games since, have had lots of adventures, and have learned a ton. It’s been so fascinating that we’ve moved on to reading books, and are even talking about taking a little wagon train trip this summer.

Learning at its best — engaging, shared with people you love, sending you on an adventure to learn even more.

6 thoughts on “Kiera Died from a Gunshot Wound”

  1. That’s nice Karen… it’ll be very nice for her to read when she grows up. Maybe help her through the teenage years ;)

  2. This kind of activity is very valuable for children (and adults) because we are so removed from realities just by virtue of the way we live today. Everything is packaged for us without any concept of what is necessary for survival.

  3. Girl, my middle stepson (22) just reminded me that he used to play the old version too. He played a game recently with Cait and says this edition(5)is much better than the old one.

    Sorry about that Ranjit.:) That’s exactly how I felt when I saw that pronouncement on the screen. It made me feel a little sick to my stomach. Not to mention seeing the words that Andrew died of starvation! Oh, that was a bad game… We shan’t be making those mistakes again!

    I don’t know anything about computer games so I’m not sure what sims is. But I can imagine your poor friend–wiping out his entire family! OMG!

    Cait knows I write a blog and that sometimes I write about her, but she doesn’t read it. I’m afraid it would go to her head and I’ve put too much energy into making sure she’s a normal kid to let that happen. I do my best to make sure that whatever I write is nothing she’d find embarrassing or a trespass to her privacy. If I’m ever not sure of something, I run it by Andrew to see what he thinks. He’s got final veto power. And since I write when she’s not around, the whole blog thing is not really part of her consciousness.

  4. You almost gave me a heart attack there as I read the first sentence ! I played Oregon trails for a few minutes as a kiddo but got extremely bored… wolfenstein was more my thing.

    The sims when I played I started with names of characters I knew and tried to get the faces like them… that was a mess when I wiped out one of my friends’ families. He wasn’t too happy.

    Incidentally, does Cait read the blog?

  5. Oh wow, I used to play Oregon Trails in ninth grade computer class, 15 years ago!! I’m sure the version you use is a lot nicer than the green-screen one we had, but I’m happy to see the concept hasn’t changed. Thanks for the memories…

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