Travel Oregon, W+K pulls out Oregon Trail 8-bit graphics for fun new tourism game

Travel Oregon: The Game

The Oregon Tourism Commission, also known as Travel Oregon, is inviting all adventurers and potential tourists to the state to see if they can survive the Oregon Trail with the launch of ‘Travel Oregon: The Game,’ developed with Wieden+Kennedy, as an 8-bit homage to the classic game many remember from childhood – The Oregon Trail.

The Oregon Trail is one of the most popular computer games of all time, and Travel Oregon's version is a tribute, developed under license from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to ensure that it harkens back to the original experience.

The game is available through Dec. 16, and it creates its own trail through seven travel regions of Oregon, making for a much easier and less treacherous trek than the historic route stretching nearly 2,000 miles from Independence, Missouri. Players can start in any part of the state and then continue along a connecting path that loops through Eastern Oregon, Southern Oregon, the Portland Region, Oregon Coast, Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge, Willamette Valley and Central Oregon.

"We want to provide a user-friendly experience that is fun and playable, while also a helpful tool to plan your winter trip around Oregon," said Todd Davidson, chief executive officer of Travel Oregon. "We think the shared nostalgia for the educational game will create a memorable and engaging experience while helping to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Oregon Trail in 2018 and provide new inspiration for travelers to explore our beautiful state of Oregon."

Available at TravelOregon.com, ‘Travel Oregon: The Game’ will educate players about different destinations and activities across the state, particularly those that take center stage in winter months. The interactive game is designed to encourage Oregonians and visitors to explore the state and try new experiences, from mountain biking in the Columbia River Gorge and truffle hunting in the Willamette Valley to ice skating in Central Oregon and steelhead fishing in Southern Oregon.

Not everything is retro, however, as the game incorporates travel and supply options that provide considerably more comfort than what the intrepid pioneers experienced – as oxen have been replaced with a station wagon, and you can purchase items such as artisanal coffee, snow chains, or a phone charger at the store. The game includes Oregon inside jokes and side quests along the way, including present-day activities such as wine tasting, reading an e-book, cross country skiing and even the opportunity to do a tee shirt toss at a hockey game.

To start the game, players adopt an avatar. Choices include a fly-fishing guide, a yoga instructor, a winemaker and a surfer, among others. Once an avatar is selected, players choose where they want to go and who they want to bring to Oregon while they try to survive the trail.

As with the classic game, dying on the historic Oregon Trail is one of the most dreaded yet memorable aspects (ie Beth died of dysentery!). "Travel Oregon: The Game" modernizes these misfortunes in more fun ways that allow players to share them in social channels with a personalized tombstone. Deaths may include food coma, wet socks, too much kombucha, or car sickness, among others.

‘Travel Oregon: The Game’ will include digital advertising and social media to drive players to the game and inspire them to start planning their Oregon adventures.

"We created 'Travel Oregon: The Game' so that Oregonians could reconnect with their state and travelers could learn more about it in a nostalgic way," said Ansel Wallenfang, copywriter for Wieden+Kennedy. "It has all the adventure of traveling the trail like the classic computer game, but now you don't have to be stuck in an elementary school library to play it."

Kyle O'Brien

I am a reporter for The Drum covering a wide array of topics but always trying to tell the best stories possible. I am a former west coaster from California and Portland, Oregon, now living in Pennsylvania — with time spent in NYC each week.

I also play saxophone professionally.

All by Kyle