DragonBox: an educational game that teaches you algebra

Matthew Good is the creator of DragonBox+, "an educational puzzle game that also secretly teaches you how to do algebra."

The basic premise is that you must isolate the dragon on one side of the board in order for him to emerge. After each level the dragon will grow a little until he is finally full grown. The game gradually introduces new abilities that mimic algebraic concepts such as elimination, fractions, isolating variables and others without it being obvious.

We were recently at GDC to accept the award for Best Serious Game at the International Mobile Gaming Awards.

We have also seen parents post videos of their children playing the game. For example, a four year old boy solves the equation "e/e + x + (-1) = d" in this video.



  1. Great game. My four year old son beats me at it constantly. Looking forward to him trying out his first algebra problems at school and realizing he’s just playing Dragonbox.

  2. My daughter enjoys this game. It’s really sneaky — she’s having fun, but learning mathematical fundamentals. And anything that can make math fun for kids makes the grade.

  3. Now this is the kind of genius thing that evolves us beyond the 20th century!  More of it, please.

    I’ve met hardly any kids who weren’t smart enough to do this kind of thing – and regular education simply can’t and won’t provide the level playing field to allow excellence to develop in every student.

    Say ‘au revoir’ to old ways of allocating rewards, and ‘bonjour’ to the incipient society we’ve been waiting for!

  4. I’m sure I was playing these sorts of games on my “second generation” home computers back in the early 1980s.  I recall a particularly brilliant Space Invaders clone that required you to do some pretty sophisticated fractional calculations on the fly.  
    Sadly back in those days it was much harder to find the audience that would appreciate things like that.

  5. It really is an incredibly astute game.  It doesn’t focus on “numbers,” but rather on “arranging things,” moving elements around on both sides of the equals sign — which is of course the procedural core of algebra.  Also, its scoring system has multiple criteria, so you don’t have the anxiety of trying to find the one-and-only-one right answer, but rather finding the *best* or most optimal answer in the most efficient way.

  6. I encourage parents to get this game sooner rather than later: by the time we got it (maybe 6 months to a year ago?),  my youngest was old enough that she liked it at first but it didn’t hold her interest in the long run.  (And we’re all math nerds in this household, so it’s not a lack of interest or skill in that area.)

    I’d say: 5 to 7 is probably the right age for most kids.  If anything, skew younger, not older.

Comments are closed.