Mediated Experiences: An Interview: Transcript

[string instrument and piano music]

[voice of Henry David Thoreau]

When I wrote the following pages, or rather the bulk of them, I lived alone in the woods a mile from any neighbor in a house which I had built myself.

A lot of people ask me or they actually assume that Walden is an educational game. Walden is not, at its core, necessarily an educational game. It’s actually built to be a piece of entertainment.

The idea came from a long time interest and love that I had in the book itself and it kind of clicked to me that there was something really important at the core of this book for modern readers. There’s a kind of catharsis one goes through as they play the six hours of this large, open world game as Thoreau. Much of his experiment is about trying to understand how much do we need to say, work to support ourselves and how much time should we be spending really having a connection with nature and, you know, where do our values lie.

The early press that we got about the game was how ironic it was to make a game about living in nature. I find this to be, um, an interesting response. I understand it, obviously. Playing a game about living in nature is not living in nature. But I always ask people, have you ever watched a film about living in nature? have you read a book, perhaps Walden, about living in nature? These are all mediated experiences. I’ve yet to really parse through why it is that playing is not the same level of interpretation and experience as reading or watching, but that difference is there.

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