DragonBox Algebra 5+, DragonBox Algebra 12+

Emerging Technologies and Edtech June 19, 2014

Country of Origin: France/Norway
Languages: English, French, Swedish, Norwegian, Spanish, Korean, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Russian, Chinese, Mandarin, Finnish, Basque
Developer: We Want To Know
Publisher: We Want To Know
Year Published: 2012, 2013
Website: http://www.dragonboxapp.com/
Platforms: iOS
Genre: Puzzle
Age Range: 8+

DragonBox is an exemplar of learning through compelling gameplay. Rather than try to teach algebra through flashcards disguised as mini-games or through endless skill-based drills, DragonBox abstracts the systems that make up Algebra and feeds them back to the player via gameplay. For example, the game presents players with graphical cards, one of which is a box. The goal is always to get the box alone. You do this by canceling out the cards. Each card has a“night” and “day” value, which allows for choices that isolate the box. Not until later in the game are lessons complicated by the addition of fractions and letter-based variables. The core algebraic concepts are first subtly introduced during gameplay through a process of systematic experimentation and discovery, letting players truly learn and apply their understanding of algebra’s logic.

The genius here is that the game sets up a system for playing with algebraic logic without needing to have a strong background in arithmetic or algebraic concepts. Instead, it relies on player natural curiosity and intuition, making it a strong candidate for play by younger players, as well as older players who just need a refresher.

Strong elements of continuity—players grow a Dragon with every successful completion of the level—and replayability (a three star system rewards players for efficient play) make DragonBox compelling to play and complete. Slick presentation and simple, responsive UI also make it treat just to use.

For educators thinking about using DragonBox in a classroom setting, the DragonBox website also provides additional exercises and resources for contextualizing gameplay in curriculum.