literary gaming, part two

May 22, 2018

Unlikely as it is, this is our second post in a week on gaming. The first talked about Haiku Adventure. This post introduces (or, if you’re an early adapter, re-introduces) Walden, a Game.

Walden, a game is an exploratory narrative and open world simulation of the life of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau during his experiment in self-reliant living at Walden Pond. The game begins in the summer of 1845 when Thoreau moved to the Pond and built his cabin there.

Players follow in his 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.

Though a computer version of Walden has been available for a year, it recently launched on PlayStation 4. According to an Associated Press article by Dylan McGuinness, the game, including visuals and sounds, is modeled closely on Thoreau’s world.

Whether the game inspires readers to seek out the book or relieves them of the need to read it, the developers hope it will expand awareness of Thoreau’s experiment in nature and have made it available free to educators.

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