mostlycloudy
Friday May 25th, 2018 2:56PM

Thoreau's 'Walden' gets new life as a video game

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth — err, game.

Henry David Thoreau wrote those words — most of them — in his seminal book, "Walden." They make up the objective of a video game that seeks to translate his exploits in the woods of Concord, Massachusetts, into a playable digital reality.

"Walden, a Game" is adapted from the book and launches Tuesday on PlayStation 4. It has been available on computers for almost a year.

"Obviously it's an odd or unique idea for a game," said Tracy Fullerton, who conceived the idea and led the team that created it at the University of Southern California's Game Innovation Lab.

Fullerton told The Associated Press that "Walden" is one of her favorite books, and she thinks its meaning — a tale of escaping technology to appreciate nature — is topical today.

"It seemed to be a kind of game that he was playing," Fullerton said. So she created one to mimic it.

Fullerton acknowledges the irony of trumpeting nature in a video game but said she hopes the game will be more contemplative than others.

Players drop in with a half-built cabin on the shores of Walden Pond. From there, they can essentially decide everything they do over eight seasons (Thoreau thought a year was better divided into eight parts than four), which takes six hours of real time.

They can finish building the house and toil in the fields, or they can venture out into 70 acres of virtual nature.

The objective is to find the right balance between survival — players can't die, but they can faint — and fulfillment. As players seek more inspiration from nature, interacting with animals and trees, the actual game world becomes more colorful and more physically beautiful, Fullerton said.

The team at USC spent more than a decade creating the game, she said. Team members consulted literature and history experts to ensure the accuracy of its portrayals, and the game's sound designer recorded all of its audible elements in the real Walden woods.

It's available for free for teachers, and a curriculum is available online, but Fullerton said the game's primary purpose is entertainment.

Joseph Simpson, a software developer from Ohio, said he reads Walden every year and discovered the game while reading about Fullerton.

"I immediately, without hesitation, bought it and started playing it," he said. Simpson said the essence of the book has been implemented into the game in a way that doesn't corrupt it with too many objectives or missions.

"I may not have to read Walden this year because I can play the game," he said.

Experts on the textual version of "Walden" also were intrigued.

Robert Hudspeth, a former president of the Thoreau Society and an English professor at the Claremont Graduate University in California, said he has heard of the game but hasn't played it.

"I will say, however, that anything that might spark an interest in Thoreau's writing is welcome," Hudspeth said. "If playing a game stimulates the players to go to the books, then I'm all for it!"

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Entertainment, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Thoreau's 'Walden' gets new life as a video game
A team at the University of Southern California's Game Innovation Lab has adapted Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" into a video game
7:09PM ( 44 seconds ago )
North Korea threatens to cancel US summit
North Korea is canceling a high-level meeting that was planned between the two countries and is threatening also to cancel a summit with the United States
6:51PM ( 18 minutes ago )
California mom of 10 says social services visited years ago
The mother of 10 children in California who authorities claim suffered "horrific" abuse by their father for years says social services interviewed the kids three years ago but that nothing came of the visit
6:44PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Stormy Daniels' crowdfunding raises transparency questions
Stormy Daniels' unusual method of crowdfunding legal fees in her case against President Donald Trump raises transparency questions about who is actually supporting the legal fight
6:14PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Will he or won't he? Presence of Markle's father in doubt
Will he or won't he? Presence of Markle's father at royal wedding in doubt after celebrity news site reports he's undergoing heart surgery and will miss "one of the greatest moments in history"
6:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
Remembering author Tom Wolfe, 'a magician' with words
Remembering author Tom Wolfe, 'a magician' with words, whose books include 'The Right Stuff' and 'The Bonfire of the Vanities'
4:52PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Facebook: We're better at policing nudity than hate speech
Facebook report reveals its screening system is better at detecting some forms of offensive content than others
3:20PM ( 3 hours ago )
Dutch researchers uncover dirty jokes in Anne Frank's diary
Researchers using digital editing techniques have deciphered the writing on two pages of Anne Frank's diary that she had covered over with brown masking paper, discovering four risque jokes and a candid explanation of sex, contraception and prostitution
2:20PM ( 4 hours ago )
Seattle OKs taxing companies like Amazon to aid the homeless
Seattle's largest businesses such as Amazon and Starbucks will have to pay a new tax to help fund homeless services and affordable housing under a measure approved by city leaders
11:44AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Technology News
North Korea threatens to cancel US summit
North Korea is canceling a high-level meeting that was planned between the two countries and is threatening also to cancel a summit with the United States
6:51PM ( 19 minutes ago )
California mom of 10 says social services visited years ago
The mother of 10 children in California who authorities claim suffered "horrific" abuse by their father for years says social services interviewed the kids three years ago but that nothing came of the visit
6:44PM ( 26 minutes ago )
US firms seek tariff relief as US and China try to mend rift
US companies seek relief from tariffs and U.S., Chinese negotiators meet to find end to trade dispute
6:29PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Wynn Resorts female directors address policies after scandal
The four female directors of casino operator Wynn Resorts say they are committed to helping the company move onto a new chapter following the sexual misconduct scandal that engulfed its founder earlier this year
6:24PM ( 46 minutes ago )
Stevie Wonder to perform 5 shows at Las Vegas strip resort
Musician and singer Stevie Wonder will perform a series of shows in Las Vegas in August
6:23PM ( 46 minutes ago )