The Experience of Walden: A Game

In Walden: A Game, developer Tracy Fullerton expertly relays the experience Henry Thoreau describes in his book, Walden. Thoreau’s original book was recounting his social experiment in which he built a cabin in the woods near Walden Pond and lived there for two years. In Fullerton’s eyes, Thoreau was trying to convey that the true goal in life is to find a balance between nature and civilization while also balancing work with play (Toppo).

The game is a first-person exploration game, with elements of survival emphasized. The survival mechanics seem to be more in the background in the game while exploring nature and becoming inspired by one’s surroundings is in the foreground. Players have numerous possible actions they can accomplish at any time, such as fish at one of many fishing locations, build and maintain Thoreau’s cabin, and even read novels such as Homer’s Illiad. The game rewards balance, for example, a reasonable amount of reading may be good for inspiration, but too much may cause the player to feel too far removed from the surrounding nature. If the player’s relationship with nature is compromised, the screen will dull and the character will eventually faint.

This masterfully crafted game serves to give the player an expedited experience of what Henry Thoreau went through during his experiment. Giving the player agency and free roam in a beautiful and realistic landscape successfully allows players to have a dose of the connection that Thoreau originally wanted to describe in his book. The game is not about having fun or learning about someone else’s experience; it is about the player having their own enlightening journey.


Toppo, Greg. “Learn to ‘Live Deliberately’ with ‘Walden’ Game on Thoreau’s Birthday.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 12 July 2017,

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