The truly immersive experience of Walden challenges the conventions of interactive gaming and shows that games do not need to be filled with violence or heaps of action to produce a sense of satisfaction. Through the game, players can be intensely engaged with the beauty of the game’s simplicity, be enlightened by many philosophies, and learn about cultivating life balance.
The game is played through the 3D first person point of view of American philosopher Henry David Thoreau during his 1845 experiment in self-reliant living at Walden Pond. Players are encouraged to explore nature and discover items such as fishing rods, books, and especially glittering arrowheads that evoke memories, experiences, and new philosophies. I particularly enjoyed Henry’s missions of seeking certain books in the woods for inspiration. My favorite text was the Analects of Confucius: Henry’s experiment relates to many of Confucian teachings – as Confucius once said, happiness can be achieved by simply only having coarse rice for food, water to drink, and the bended arm for a pillow. I loved reading these philosophical texts that Henry needed to seek out because it made me reflect on myself and reminded me that – as The Law of Manu says – “resignation of all pleasures is far better than the attainment of them.” I put these texts and philosophies into my reality, and discovered that living a minimal life and appreciating all my essential basic survival needs brings me much more joy than having an abundance of unnecessary material goods.