Friday, May 4, 2012

Subsidized Thoreau – The Video Game

I’m not a Thoreau nut or anything.  But I do admire and enjoy reading Walden and Cape Cod.  Walden Pond in Concord, MA is just a few towns over from where my wife and I attended High School and I would frequently walk its shores with my camera. It’s not a wilderness area of course, even in Thoreau’s day railroad tracks cut along one edge of the pond and old Henry David would follow them into town instead of walking the road.  And the Town of Concord long ago established a public swimming beach adjacent to that road. But it’s still a neat area, especially knowing that the pond is a glacial kettle hole and ice-contact features can be found throughout the surrounding undeveloped woods.
Walden Pond - Google View
This week Time Magazine reports on progress being made by software developers to create a Walden video game.  As the magazine editors express: “A video game about a 19th-century philosopher living in a shack, where there’s only one character and nothing happens? Sign us up!”   Yeah, like where are the six dozen bad guys I need to mow down with my 500 cal shoulder cannon so I can save the world?

The still-in-development game will reportedly try to imitate the meditative-filled peace and solitude that Thoreau experienced living in his simple cabin and roaming the watershed. Without having to leave your computer console of course. No release date has been projected as yet from the University of Southern California developers. (Could you get any further away from the real Walden Pond?)

But wait, this is apparently a public project since the National Endowment for the Arts gave a $40,000 grant toward completing the video game. What would Henry David think of the Nanny State that we’ve become?  Living in a tiny cabin with no running water or creature comforts he would have easily qualified for food stamps and other support. Thoreau on the dole? Maybe that needs to be worked into the video game somehow.

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