Might As Well Sell Chocolate-Covered Broccoli

Posted by admin on January 4th, 2014 filed in Games

Now this is sneaky… The game Dragonbox secretly teaches children algebra… “They won’t even notice.” :-o


(Full disclosure: I heard of it because Dragonbox’ community manager is also the jMonkeyEngine’s community manager. I’m not getting a commission.) :)

This educational game became very popular in Norway and is now available everywhere. The player solves puzzles by dragging and dropping a box and monsters on a split screen, following simple rules. When the box stands alone on one side, the box captures the monsters on the other side, and you win this round. In order to free and activate the box, you need to dissolve or move the monsters.
Dragging “day” and “night” monsters of the same type onto each other cancels them out and creates a void. Voids disappear when you click them. You can conjure up a cancelling night monster on one side, but the same monster must also appear on the other side. Somebody who knows algebra recognizes these rules pretty quickly. Someone who doesn’t still solves the puzzles intuitively, without becoming aware of why they are doing this (which can be considered good or bad).
After the player has figured out the rules and reaches higher levels, the cute monster icons are replaced by letters, day and night by plus and minus, and the voids by zeros, etc, until the board looks like an algebraic equation.

But by then it will be too late! Bait and switch! ;-D

The game is marketed to parents (mobile app) and school teachers (web version). The “12+” version is the “5+” version with added levels. (The age levels are just estimates, it’s hard to say what individual children will find hard or easy.) We all (that is, we jMonkeys) complained that there is no free trial or demo, I hope they will improve their web page in this regard. In the meanwhile, here’s a Dragonbox review including a user video.

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