I have never played The Oregon Trail before, but I’m wondering whether the path and events are pre-defined or random. For example, does doing the same action at the same point always result in the same result? Or are the results of every action randomized?
In other words, can you get through a play-through of The Oregon Trail by finding the most optimised path and doing those same actions every time, or can you always get screwed over by randomness?
The events in the game are random. Importantly:
In 1974, Rawitch was hired by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC), a state-funded organization that developed educational software for the classroom, and he began to rebuild the game, still using text-based output, for the organization. He decided to research the events of the Oregon Trail that he had not had time for with the original game, and changed the random events, such as bad weather or wagons breaking down, to be based on the actual historical probabilities for what happened to travelers on the trail at each location in the game. Rawitsch calculated the probabilities himself, basing them on historical diaries and narratives of people on the trail that he read.
Nothing in the information about the 1990 update suggests that the events were changed, merely the forms of various minigames, and an expansion of available backgrounds.