“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…” Since this line was first written by American philosopher Henry David Thoreau in 1854, it’s inspired thinkers, writers, artists and naturalists. But only recently did someone decide Thoreau’s short memoir was the perfect blueprint for an online game.
Walden, a game, to be released this summer, is a first-person simulation of Thoreau’s life during his experiment in self-reliant living at Walden Pond. It’s been generating tons of buzz, including in The New York Times and at Davos, for its creativity, its beauty and its sheer unlikeliness. Join us as we welcome lead designer Tracy Fullerton, director of the Game Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, to talk about “the world’s most improbable video game.”
In the game, as in life, the goal is to achieve balance between the quotidian (growing or hunting food, chopping wood) and the sublime (walking in the woods, reading, talking with visitors). It’s a singular example of how digital technologies, guided by a startlingly creative mind, can make the humanities accessible, fun and participatory in a whole new way.
Listen in as Tracy shares how—and why—she turned a 19th-century memoir into a 21st-century digital game. We’ll get a peek at the game itself and learn about the delightful challenges of its creation, from scouring Thoreau’s original surveys of Walden Pond to create the game’s landscape and establishing rules and choices for the first-person player, to designing a color scheme and soundtrack that subtly cue the players to their success or failure in “living deliberately.” And we’ll think together about the remarkable possibilities of games and their ability to help us navigate our complicated, ever-changing world.
This special INconversation is proudly presented in partnership with GenCon.