Walden, a game for educators


What is Walden, a game? 
Walden, a game is a first person exploratory game about the life of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau during his experiment in self-reliant living at Walden Pond. The game begins in the summer of 1845 when Thoreau moved to the Pond and built his cabin there.

Players follow in his footsteps, surviving in the woods by finding food and fuel and maintaining their shelter and clothing. At the same time, players are surrounded by the beauty of the woods and the Pond, which hold a promise of a sublime life beyond these basic needs. The game follows the loose narrative of Thoreau’s first year in the woods, with each season holding its own challenges for survival and possibilities for inspiration. The game offers more opportunities for reflective play than strategic challenge. In homage to the original text, the piece has a subtle narrative arc. Rather than an adventure of the body pitted against nature, students can experience the mind and soul living in nature over the course of a New England year.


Is Walden an educational game? 
Not strictly, no, but the game is rich with content that makes it a great educational experience. The lessons in our curriculum guide will give students background to better understand the video game Walden and to maximize what they learn from playing it. Through the lessons they learn more about the life of Henry David Thoreau, the times in which he lived, and the legacy of environmentalism that he inspired.


What does the curriculum guide include? 
The curriculum guide includes lessons that are appropriate for English Language Arts, History, Social Studies, Visual Arts, Science (particularly environmental science), and other lessons that bridge the sciences and the humanities. Download the guide here. The specific lessons in the guide are listed below.

  • Lesson 1: Playing a Serious Game (Media Literacy)

  • Lesson 2: Henry David Thoreau: A Life in Context (United States History, Environmental Science)

  • Lesson 3: The Hudson River Painters (Visual Arts, Art History)

  • Lesson 4: Modern Writing about Nature (English Language Arts)

  • Lesson 5: A Wild Lens: Learning to Record Nature (Science, Language Arts, Art, Math)


Where can I find the curriculum guide? 
The curriculum guide is available for download here. It was created by our partners at Journeys in Film, a leader in educational resources that uses rich media such as films and games as the basis for curriculum that improves educational outcomes. Journeys in Film is a nonprofit organization working in partnership with USC’s Rossier School of Education. Authors of the Walden, a game curriculum guide are: Kate Fitzgerald, Mary Anne Kovacs, Lara Tukarski, Laura Zlatos. Special thanks to Joanne Ashe, Martine McDonald, Eileen Mattingly and Nancy Saiz for their help in making this curriculum guide possible.


How much will the game cost? 
Nothing! We are offering educators complimentary evaluation licenses of the PC and Mac version game. Just contact Walden Support and tell us about yourself and the class you are interested in using it for. We'll send you a special link for use in your classroom. You can request your complimentary copy from Walden support.

If you're interested in large-group licensing, let us know your plans and we can help find the best solution for you. We have deeply discounted group licenses and student licenses available.


What hardware/software does my classroom need to play? 
The game works on either Windows PC's or Macintosh computers, but requires a 3D graphics card and adequate memory. For specific hardware requirements and instructions for install, read our FAQ here. It is not available for mobile, tablets or Chromebooks. It is available for PlayStation 4, but we are only able to give complimentary versions of the Windows and Mac versions.

Can my students save their in-game journals? 
Yes! Thanks to the generous work of one of our players, Atul Varma, players can now save out their in-game journals. Just download and unzip the journal extractor tool. The zip file contains versions of the tool for Mac and PC. Unzip the package and open it on the computer that has the save game from which you want to extract the journal. The tool will locate all the save games on that computer and allow you select the one you want and copy its journal out to various formats including Word, PDF and HTML.


I need help with something else! 
If you have questions about anything else, you can contact us here: Walden support