When I set out to create a game based on Walden, I wanted to create an experience that would give players an introduction to this important book that goes beyond just reading Thoreau’s words. I wanted to create a virtual world that would allow you to explore his ideas in context, to try for yourself his experiment in living simply in nature, and to find your own answers to the questions he was asking about life and how to live it.
Tracy Fullerton, Game Designer and Director
THE CURRICULUM GUIDE
Walden, A Game is a first person 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. The game offers more opportunities for reflective play than strategic challenge. In homage to the original text, the piece has a subtle narrative arc. Rather than an adventure of the body pitted against nature, students can experience the mind and soul living in nature over the course of a New England year.
The lessons in this curriculum guide will give students background to better understand the video game Walden and to maximize what they learn from playing it. Through the lessons they learn more about the life of Henry David Thoreau, the times in which he lived, and the legacy of environmentalism that he inspired. There are lessons that are appropriate for science classes, particularly environmental science; other lessons for English Language Arts and Visual Arts serve to bridge the gap that often exists between the sciences and the humanities in a typical secondary school setting.
ACCESS THE GAME
Educators can receive a complimentary evaluation licenses of the game. Contact Walden Support and tell them about the classroom you are interested in engaging the game.
Affordable group and student licenses are also available.
- Lesson 1: Playing a Serious Game (Media Literacy)
- Lesson 2: Henry David Thoreau: A Life in Context (United States History, Environmental Science)
- Lesson 3: The Hudson River Painters (Visual Arts, Art History)
- Lesson 4: Modern Writing about Nature (English Language Arts)
- Lesson 5: A Wild Lens: Learning to Record Nature (Science, Language Arts, Art, Math)
Authors of this curriculum guide: Kate Fitzgerald, Mary Anne Kovacs, Lara Tukarski, Laura Zlatos.
Game Director, Designer, Writer: Tracy Fullerton, USC Game Innovation Lab
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Walden, A Game (Official Soundtrack Playlist)