Meridian teacher Eric Olsen is expanding his vision for education with his new board game, Glyphics.
While teaching virtually during the pandemic, Olsen sat at his kitchen table and began rearranging small household objects into the shape of a Christmas tree. His two kids — also home because of COVID-19 closures — sat and guessed what he was building.
Soon, the three had emptied a junk drawer onto the table, and took turns building and guessing one another’s structures.
A self-defined “game nerd,” Olsen saw how much fun his family was having playing the game, and thought he might have something big on his hands. So he began 3-D printing game pieces, and gathered his family and friends to test-play his new game — Glyphics.
Two years later, he had a finished product, ready to hit the shelves of Target, Amazon and local stores around the Treasure Valley.
“It took off like a rocket ship,” Olsen said. “I couldn’t believe how fast it went.”
Partially inspired by Pictionary, Glyphics includes 40 pieces and 140 cards for players build structures, while the remaining players guess. The physical pieces, Olsen says, brings movement to the game and creates a more interactive game setting.
The Idaho Technical Career Academy math teacher says the game can add a new element of fun to classrooms, too.
English teachers are using the game to build vocabulary words with their students and create scenes from books they are reading, and professors are using Glyphics in high-level university courses, Olsen said.
“It actually is a really good educational tool,” Olsen said.
Nick Carannante, a special education teacher in the Nampa School District, says Glyphics adds versatility to the learning environment.
He’s used the game as a learning device, a tool to help students with their fine motor skills, and as a game for students of different ages. Other teachers in his district are finding their own ways to use Glyphics, he said.
“The more it’s put into classrooms, we’ll learn there are a lot of different ways that it can be successful,” Carannante said.
Even though Olsen teaches virtually and can’t use it for his own classes, his students and most of the ITCA staff have bought games for themselves and to support him.
Olsen’s most grateful for the local support, he says. He has a few more games in the works, and hopes they can continue to serve students and teachers across the Treasure Valley, and beyond.