App review by Chad Sansing, Common Sense Education | Updated September 2016
Garry's Mod

Garry's Mod

Complex physics sandbox is daunting but rich

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 2 reviews
Privacy rating
49%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Subjects & Skills
Science, Creativity, Critical Thinking

Take a look inside

5 images

Pros: Tons of user-generated content, realistic physics, and deep customization options make every playing session feel fun and new.

Cons: A steep learning curve and some violent content limit classroom accessibility.

Bottom Line: This physics sandbox ramps up the complexity but not the usability, leaving it up to the right teachers and students to unlock its benefits.

Teachers can use Garry's Mod (GMod) as a demonstration tool for physics experiments that are otherwise impractical for class. For example, a teacher could create a rocket, giant catapult, or two objects that push against each other with more force than can be safely (or possibly) generated at school.

Teachers can also help students model experimental designs and solutions to physics and 3-D geometry problems, and students who want to share their work (with the appropriate permissions) can create and post expository pieces explaining their creations on DIY sites such as Instructables. Teachers and students can also use GMod to create explorable 3-D maps and models that connect to class content.

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GMod is a physics sandbox stuffed with art and models from Valve software's popular games, including Half-Life 2 and Counter-Strike. With a large library of generic objects, recognizable props from Valve's games, and pre-built devices such as thrusters and wheels, users can build and share nearly anything they can imagine.

Every object's physical properties can be modified, letting players tweak things such as lighting or the amount of force and torque an object can create or withstand. With GMod, students can model solutions to physics problems, draw hypotheses about how things work in the real world, make films or sculptures, or just have madcap fun.

While the toolkit and physics engine are superb, GMod is nowhere near as easy to use as its spiritual cousin, Minecraft. If students don't already have experience with similar editing software, they'll need to spend a significant amount of time learning the ins and outs of the game's tools, materials, and settings. GMod also has some highly distracting assets –- weapons and scary, rag-doll character models -– which, like TNT in Minecraft, might derail more productive play.

As a teaching tool, GMod benefits from focused use and clear expectations –- including what specific objects should be used. It's definitely a "right kid, right time, right project" teaching and learning tool and unreasonable as a requirement for an entire class. But certain kids will fall in love and engineer fantastic creations.

Overall Rating


Offers mind-boggling possibilities for building with models and art from Valve Software's hit games, along with an active user community -- but it's not designed to grab new users.


There's spectacular potential for learning everything from physics to digital filmmaking, but it'll take an equally spectacular teacher and/or student(s).


With realistic graphics, no tutorial, and an interface that functions more like a game-development environment than a user-friendly game menu, Garry's Mod can intimidate new users.

Common Sense reviewer
Chad Sansing Classroom teacher

Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users.
Personal information can be displayed publicly.
User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Users can create or upload content.
Processes to access or review user data are available.
Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Personal information is not shared for third-party marketing.
Unclear whether this product displays traditional or contextual advertisements.
Personalised advertising is displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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