Poly Bridge Bridges an Educational Gap
This article was written after playing a review copy of Poly Bridge provided by the games developer Dry Cactus. OmniGamer’s writers happily give their honest opinions despite such acts of generosity, though appreciated.
Did you ever have the misfortune of building toothpick bridges in high school? I’m sure not everyone hated it as much as I did, but as I played Poly Bridge, memories of that dreadful evening on my grandparents’ floor came flooding back. I learned that glue sticks are awful and hair dryers weren’t meant for drying glue. I also learned glue cover toothpicks like to stick to anything but themselves. That included carpet, the table, even my hair. The final result looked something like this.
However, the most important lesson I learned was on the next day when I walked into the classroom. My math teacher made, perhaps, the most terrified face I had ever seen as I laid the shamefully constructed nightmare on my desk. He did not need to say anything. I knew that bridge building, construction and architecture would never be careers for me. As he weighed them down with rolls of pennies I watched mine snap into pieces early on. While other students made bridges so sturdy that he actually went and grabbed weights from the science lab. I was pretty sure I’d never build a bridge again.
Then I came across Poly Bridge. No one can laugh at me for how poor my bridge building skills are if I’m in the safety of my room, which is a good thing because most of my attempts ended poorly. Plenty of buses sunk and I’d rather not think about the shouts of the young school age students in their final moments before drowning due to the lack of attention I paid in geometry and algebra. However, Poly Bridge did something that both of those math courses never did for me.
Poly Bridge let me build bridges without fear of failure or judgment. And it granted me multiple opportunities. It let me build until I figured out how to do things. I didn’t have to wait for glue to dry. As soon as my construction was complete I could get automatic feedback and make corrections where need be. And with each attempt, I became more confident in my decisions. I was starting to understand bridge building a little better. Before long I could even make a drawbridge for a boat to pass under.
Now while I am, and have always been a big advocate for incorporating gaming into the school curriculum. I’ve even given presentations on the subject matter and discussed the educational value of games that were not necessarily built for educational purposes. However, Poly Bridge is one of the first games to hit home on a personal level for me. That high school experiment in bridge building taught me nothing. But it did make me feel like bridge building was something I could not do. Meanwhile, this game helped me think through problems and let me try until I succeeded, making it a far more pleasant and productive learning experience.
I’d love to hear more about what games have taught you as well, so feel free to continue this discussion by dropping a comment below.