Walden, A Game is a new experimental video game based on the book by American philosopher Henry David Thoreau. It made its Utah introduction at this year’s New Frontier in conjunction with the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, which features virtual reality, video art installations, and immersive video and film creations. Tracy Fullerton, the game’s designer, says it serves as a vehicle for education and entertainment, and aims to appeal to gamers of all ages.
"...I was just here yesterday and I saw a grandmother playing, and then a daughter, and her little kids, and they were all enjoying it equally. The grandma had a little trouble with the 3-D world and the kids helped her, but then she was running around picking berries just like everyone else ... The kids get something out of it at the level of the survival story, the adventure of going down and living in the woods. And as adults, we get something different. We see that sense of balance and we see how important it is, the choices we make with our time every day, and what we're doing every day, and are we really doing things that care/take both ourselves as physical beings and as spiritual beings?" said Fullerton.
Walden, A Game resembles traditional first person shooting games like Doom, Call of Duty and Goldeneye 007, but gamers with a desire for digital violence may be disappointed, because there are no guns in this simulation of Walden Pond.
"...Really, there are no horrors in this world. There's nothing that's going to kill you or attack you. The thing that drags you down, the conflict, is really just you have to survive. So if you don't have enough food or enough fuel, or your shelter is breaking down and it's the middle of winter, then you're going to faint. And you'll re-spawn but you will have lost all of your inspiration and it will be a dull experience," said Fullerton.
Fullerton plans to release Walden. A Game in time for Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday, which is next year.
Audio: Gameplay sounds courtesy of Tracy Fullerton