A Virtual Walden's Pond

Saturday, April 15, 2017 -- 10:07 AM
Truman Chen

You might not have thought it was possible, but there is now a computer game version of Walden by Henry David Thoreau designed to help foster a philosophical experience and learn to "live deliberately." It was released just in time for the 200th anniversary of Thoreau's birth, and it was designed by Tracy Fullerton, the founding director of USC's Game Innovation Lab. In order to ensure the accuracy of the experience of Walden's pond, Fullerton collaborated with Thoreau experts at the Huntington Library in Los Angeles and at the Walden Woods Project in Massachusetts.

The goal of the game, according to the game's website, is for "Players to follow in [Thoreau's] footsteps, surviving in the woods by finding food and fuel and maintaining their shelter and clothing. At the same time, players are surrounded by the beauty of the woods and the Pond, which hold a promise of a sublime life beyond these basic needs. The game follows the loose narrative of Thoreau's first year in the woods, with each season holding its own challenges for survival and possibilities for inspiration."

The game is intended for anyone, ranging from newcomers to Thoreau to experienced readers of transcendental literature, therefore designed to serve the purpose of both introducing people to Thoreau's thought and adding something onto the experience of simply reading the work.

But what do you think? Are video game version of our favorite works going to popularize philosophical thinking? Should we design a game to simulate Nietzsche's hiking of the Swiss Alps to convince players of the need to affirm the eternal recurrence?

Check out the game here: http://waldengame.com/

 
 
 

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