Category Archive 'Walden'

04 May 2012

Walden: The Game

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Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond

Henry David Thoreau went to jail rather than pay taxes to local government (when he objected to federal policies, including the Mexican War and the Constitutional tolerance of Slavery), so naturally enough the same federal government, through its National Endowment for the Arts, is using tax money to fund creation by a group of academics at the University of Southern California of a Thoreau’s Walden “game.”

Lead game designer, USC Associate Professor Tracy Fullerton explains that they are designing “a rich simulation of the woods, filled with the kind of detail that Thoreau so carefully noted in his writings.”

The simulation will “mimic the meditative outdoor life described in Thoreau’s best-known work, written about his two years spent living in a cabin on the shores of Walden Pond in Concord, Mass. The digital Walden Pond will showcase a first-person point-of-view where you can wander through the lush New England foliage, stop to examine a bush and pick some fruit, cast a fishing rod, return to a spartan cabin modeled after Thoreau’s and just roam around the woods, grappling with life’s unknowable questions.”

It is intended to serve as “an introduction for young people, who might not have read the book yet.”

There you are, $40 Grand of your tax dollars for a visual Cliff Notes experience of walking in the woods, picking berries, catching a perch, &c.

It doesn’t sound to me as if the designers have given any thought to score keeping.

Some suggestions:

Work in family pencil factory for cash — minus 10 points

Pick a quart of huckleberries — plus 10 points

Eat a groundhog — plus 30 points, but you become sick to your stomach and lose half your movement allowance for three turns

Make a campfire — plus 5 points, but you must roll dice. If you roll a pair, you have accidentally started a fire and will burn 300 acres of woods and lose 100 points

Sponge off Emerson — minus 10 points


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