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    ‘World’s most improbable video game’ — about Walden Pond — is set to release on PlayStation 4

    A lone fisherman at Walden Pond
    Globe File Photo
    A lone fisherman at the real Walden Pond

    You’re at Walden Pond. You can see the trees and plants. You can hear the birds singing, the insects buzzing, and your feet scuffing on forest paths.

    Now, you think, I’ve got to find food, fuel, and shelter. And along the way, maybe some inspiration.

    Because you’re Henry David Thoreau. Or at least you’re playing that role — as you grasp your controller.


    That’s the experience offered by “Walden, A Game,” which is being released for Sony’s Playstation 4 on Tuesday.

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    “The game puts you into the role of a young Henry Thoreau. . . . It starts in the summer, when living is easy, but as the seasons pass, our dynamic and deeply detailed environment changes and you will need to develop new strategies for survival in the woods,” Tracy Fullerton, director of the University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab said in a post on Sony’s PlayStation blog.

    “But that’s just part of Thoreau’s adventure. He didn’t want to just survive in the woods; he wanted to seek out inspiration in nature and in the ideas he went there to think about. If you want to truly succeed at his experiment, you’ll need to learn how to balance your basic needs for survival with your quest for inspiration.”

    And you’ll have to do without your grenade launcher.

    The game was released for Windows and Mac last year and made a big splash. It’s been dubbed by some “the world’s most improbable video game.” Some Thoreau experts were cool to the idea, but others said it could introduce Thoreau’s famous book ”Walden” to a whole new audience, the New York Times reported.


    Fullerton’s post says that her team has been working on the project for 10 years.

    The game developers delved into research about the pond, the woods, and Thoreau’s life and times, she said, and worked with historians at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Pond to “make sure the details of our world were correct.”

    “We visited the pond in every season, taking photographs of all the plants and trees. And our sound designer recorded all the sounds on location at the pond: all the birds and insects and even the footsteps you hear as you explore the pond,” she said.

    Players should do more than focus on just surviving, she said.

    Getty Images
    Henry David Thoreau

    “The more you seek and find inspiration, the richer and more colorful the game world will become, and the more opportunities will open up in the game,” she said.


    The 64-acre pond in Concord was immortalized by Thoreau in “Walden.” Thoreau, who wrote about living the simple life and communing with nature, is considered a forefather of the American environmental movement.

    “I know a lot of people read this book in high school, but what if you could play it instead?” Fullerton said.

    It’s not the first time the pond has appeared in a video game.

    The pond is a far grimmer spectacle in “Fallout 4”, the post-apocalyptic game set in Boston. The park at Walden Pond in Fallout is a “small trash-filled park with a small blown out gift shop, a camp on the South end, and a small pond with a tiny island, and a nearby drainage pipe,” according to the IGN gamers’ website.

    Robert DeCola of the Globe staff contributed to this report.