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On July 4th, 1845, Henry David Thoreau went down to the woods of Walden Pond to begin his experiment in living life simply in nature. This July 4th, we can all live Thoreau's experiment virtually in Walden, a game. After a decade of love poured into this epic project, the Game Innovation Lab is proud to announce the release of this much anticipated experiment in life, philosophy and play.

Walden, a game is now available for Macintosh and Windows PC's here, from the Game Innovation Lab page on Please note that the game is not available for mobile phones or tablets.

Before you purchase, be sure your computer meets the recommended system requirements:

Windows PC:
Windows 7 / 8 / 10
Processor: 2.4 GHz Dual Core or Equivalent
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: 1024 MB NVidia or ATI graphics card
Storage: 2 GB available space

OS X 10.9+
Processor: 2.4 GHz Dual Core or Equivalent
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: 1024 MB NVidia or ATI graphics card
Storage: 2 GB available space

If you have questions about these requirements or need technical support, you can contact us here: Walden support. Also, if you are new to indie or first-person games, you can find more information on how to purchase and play here. If you are an educator interested in using Walden, a game in your classroom, click here for info.

About the Game

Walden, a game, is a first person simulation of 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 audience for the game is broad: from experimental game players to lovers of Thoreau and Transcendental literature. As such, the game offers more opportunities for reflective play than strategic challenge. The piece has a subtle narrative arc, in homage to the original text, which is not an adventure of the body pitted against nature, but of the mind and soul living in nature over the course of a New England year.

Why a Game About Thoreau?

There are many reasons why Thoreau’s work should be important to us today – from his core environmentalism, to his criticisms of the ways in which technologies change the speed and value of our lives, to his fundamental questioning of the role of government in society – all of which are as critical, if not more, than when he was writing. As the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth approaches, the opportunity to relive his famous experiment in simple, self-reliant living in the form of an immersive game seems particularly relevant to those of us living in a world dominated by concerns about our relationship to nature, technology and governments. Walden, a game gives digital natives the opportunity to meet Thoreau’s ideas in a form that makes them interactive and immersive.

It is not our hope that the game would ever replace reading the book of Walden, or taking a lovely walk out doors, or getting closer to nature in any way. We hope the game is actually a path for more people to find their way back to Thoreau, and to nature, and to be inspired to think more deliberately about the choices they make about life and how to live it simply and wisely.

Haven't I seen this game somewhere?

The game has been on exhibit as a work in progress for several years. Most recently it was at Davos, at the World Economic Forum. And it is currently on display at the Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts. The game won Most Meaningful Game at Meaningful Play 2016 and was selected as part of the IDFA's Canon of 100 Interactive Documentaries. Over the past year or so, we've shown the game in various states of production at Sundance New Frontier, IndieCade, Tokyo Game Show, the Sheffield Doc Fest, the IDFA DocLab, the Cleveland International Film Festival, among others venues.


The Smithsonian Magazine has called the game "the world's most improbable video game" and the Walden Woods Project's director Kathi Anderson feels the game could introduce Walden to a whole new audience, even though "they're not the same as the people who would sit down and read Thoreau's book." (We hope that you might be one of those people who does both, actually.) PC World named it one of's "best, weirdest, and most fascinating indie PC games."

This project was made possible by support from: