August 1, 2017

IMGD's Tracy Fullerton and Lishan AZ are Games For Change Winners

Fullerton's Walden, a game, takes the top prize for Most Significant Impact

By Jessica Romer

Tracy Fullerton








USC Games Director, Tracy Fullerton, received several awards last night at the Games for Change awards. Her game, Walden, a game, was awarded the Game of the Year as well as Most Significant Impact.

According to Games for Change Festival, “Founded in 2004, Games for Change empowers game creators and social innovators to drive real-world change using games that help people to learn, improve their communities, and contribute to make the world a better place.”

The 14th Annual Games for Change Festival was hosted by Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York City. There were over a thousand participants at the event that was heralded as the largest event in the festival’s history.

Walden is an impressive interactive gaming experience based off of the two years Henry David Thoreau lived near the bucolic Walden Pond. In Walden, players become Thoreau and are able to experience his daily activities such as gathering food, visiting friends and family, and interacting with the natural habitat of Walden Pond. According to Fullerton's website for the project:

Walden, a game, simulates the experiment in living made by Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond in 1845-47, allowing players to walk in his virtual footsteps, attend to the tasks of living a self-reliant existence, discover in the beauty of a virtual landscape the ideas and writing of this unique philosopher, and cultivate through game lay their own thoughts and responses to the concepts discovered.”

Walden has a wide audience, “from experimental game players to lovers of Thoreau and Transcendental literature.” The game emphasizes reflectivity rather than strategy and has a narrative arc as it 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.”

Fullerton created a videogame about Henry David Thoreau because of “his core environmentalism, his criticisms of the way in which technologies change the speed and value of our lives, and his fundamental questioning of the role of government in society--all of which are as critical, if not more, than when he was writing.”

Throughout the last decade, Fullerton has been adapting Thoreau’s 19th century countryside into a 21st gaming experience. The core Walden team has been working together for over five years and includes Todd Furmanski, Luke Peterson, Michael Sweet, George Luif, Logan Ver Hoef, Alex Mathew and Timothy Lee.

The Rolling Stones and other major publications have congratulated Fullerton on the success of Walden at this year’s Games for Change Awards. The game has been featured at the Davos World Economic Forum and is on exhibition at the Concord Museum. It has also received prestigious awards such as Most Meaningful Game at Meaningful Play 2016 and an official selection of IDFA’s Canon of 100 Interactive Documentaries.

SCA alum Lishan AZ's Tracking Ida

Another IMGD success at this year's Games for Change was Lishan AZ's Tracking Ida, which took the award for Best Gameplay. Tracking Ida is "an education alternative reality game (ARG) inspired by the pioneering journalism of Ida B. Wells that was piloted in Watts, Los Angeles."

Walden, A Game is available now and more regarding Fullerton’s works can be found on her website. Lishan Az's work is available on her website.