National Endowment for the Arts

Walden/Henry David Thoreau Video Game to be Financed by NEA Grant

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There may be a more perfect Henry David Thoreau quote in response to this news, but let's just with "This government never furthered any enterprise but by the alacrity with which it got out of the way" for now. Something more nature-swoony would also work nicely.

Basically, even if the 19th century philosopher, government-distrusting peacenik and fan of the simple life could scarcely have comprehended any aspect of the news that $40,000 in National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) funding was given to the University of Southern California in order to create a video game called "Walden Woods," this is deeply ironic and amusing. Notes Raw Story:

"the player will inhabit an open, three-dimensional game-world, which will simulate the geography and environment of Walden Woods". With the game drawing from the detailed notes Thoreau wrote about the area and its landscape, flora and fauna, users will be able not only to walk in the author's footsteps but also, said the university, "discover in the beauty of a virtual landscape the ideas and writings of this unique philosopher, and cultivate through the gameplay their own thoughts and responses to the concepts discovered there".

The official NEA summary is here, and it notes that the game will be available to play online when it is finished.

I have some questions, such as wouldn't a Lysander Spooner video game also be a great idea? (I want to play No Treason, don't you?) And, do the game developers realize this is hilarious, even if it turns out to be somehow cool? (The quotes above rather suggest they do not.) And most of all, wouldn't Thoreau have been more of a Kickstarter guy anyway?

Reason on the NEA, on video games, and on Thoreau; and Reason.tv on "3 Reasons Not to Fund Art with Taxes":


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