Thoreau-ly Virtual: Gov’t Grant Gives Rise to ‘Walden’ Video Game

By Eric Scheiner | October 2, 2012 | 8:26 AM EDT

( - The natural world that inspired Henry David Thoreau to write “Walden, or Life in the Woods” will soon be available for the enjoyment of those who never step out of doors.

The University of Southern California is developing a video game entitled “Walden” with the assistance of a $40,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant.

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The NEA 2012 grant website describes the game as  “an open, three-dimensional game world which will simulate the geography and environment of Walden Woods.”

One of Thoreau’s most widely known works, Walden describes his experiences and reflections while living alone in a cabin at Walden Pond from 1845 until 1847.

The USC website touts the insights the game will generate: “Walden" "posits a new genre of play, in which reflection and insight play an important role in the player experience. While traveling the virtual world of Walden, the player applies themselves to both daily task of maintaining the basic aspects of life at Walden Pond, as well as having the opportunity to focus on the deeper meaning behind events that transpire in the world.”

USC has even created a video highlighting the game play.

Tracy Fullerton, the chair of the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, declined to be interviewed by about the development of the game.

The NEA grant website says the $40,000 is intended to support production costs and that game will be available online upon completion.

Thoreau wrote many books and essays, but is best known for ‘Walden’ and his essay ‘Civil Disobedience’ where he focused on an individual’s moral opposition to an unjust state.

Eric Scheiner
Eric Scheiner
Eric is the Senior Video Producer for