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Updated on June 26, 2012
Dragonvale | Source

Lessons Learned Through Dragonvale

My kids have always had a strange obsession with dragons. Just the other day my son asked my daughter, “Don't you love dragons....not getting attacked by them, but just the way the look?” I am sure my children also think dragons are real. They have asked me to assure them that we will NEVER go where dragons live. I gave them my word.

What is Dragonvale?

A couple of weeks ago my sister invited me to join Dragonvale, a simulation game created by Backflip and availalbe for download from Itunes.

I loaded the app and let the kids know it was there. We were quickly at level 11 and apparently, we weren’t on the right track. I learned that the goal of Dragonvale was to breed dragons. We didn’t even have a breeding cave.

What? No breeding cave?

More like, what is a breeding cave?

So unfortunately I was introduced to the world of Dragonvale. My decision to let my kids play this game solo was out the window. I was in and I was getting hooked. There are many tutorials out there explaining how to breed which dragon, the ways to earn gems and what new habitats are available at what level.

Google for those.

What They Learn

I want to tell you why I am ok my kids’ obsession with this game.

Management of Money and Resources

There are three main components to caring for your islands, habitats and dragons: coins, gems and treats.

Coins: You must collect an amount of coins to buy things. Simple concepts, but some of the items are millions of coins. The kids need to show patience and money management. When we wanted our thiry island, we needed 2,500,000 million coins. We had to agree, no one spent money on anything other than more food.

The kids learned a test of patience resulting in a sense of accomplishment.

Gems: There are only two ways to collect gems. The first is from friends. The second is from winning challenges. Gems are very valuable and not easy to collect. You can use gems to speed up the process of upgrading a habitat or hatching an egg. The kids really need to weigh the pros and cons. Do I use one gem to make a dragon hatch one hour earlier? Or let’s wait. That gem took one day to earn. We have decided as a group, that waiting is better than spending gems. But, I assure you, we have this discussion on a regular basis.

The kids have learned the value of an item vs. immediate satisfaction.

Treats: You must pay coins to grow treats. You need treats to feed your dragon. As they eat more treats, they increase in levels. The higher the level of the dragon, the quicker they can earn coins in their habitat. Occasionally, the kids will not plant more treats in the treat farm because it costs coins to plant. But if you feed the dragons, they will make coins for you quicker.

The kids are learning that sometimes you need to invest now to yield a larger return later.


Our main Dragonvale island
Our main Dragonvale island | Source

Strategy Games For Children

One of the main goals of the game is creating dragons. More importantly, you want to create hybrid dragons. There is strategy in order to create these hybrid and sometimes seasonal dragons. Often times our kids have waited twenty-four hours to find out that the egg created was NOT the one intended. They are back to the drawing board thinking which two dragons they should use this time.

The kids are learning to step back, see what might work better and try again.

Children's Concept of Time

If you decide to upgrade a habitat, the clock starts. It might take twenty-four hours for an upgrade to finish. When you breed two dragons, the clock starts. It might take 3 hours or up to 2 days for the breeding to be complete. When you put an egg in the nursery, the clock starts again. When you put a dragon into competition, the clock starts again. The clock is constantly running on various components of the game.

The kids are learning to read a clock, that things take time and sometimes, you just have to wait.

Children Learning Responsibility

There are visitors wandering through your islands. The better the island, the more visitors you have. This can depend on how many islands you have, how many hybrid dragons, how nice your islands look and are there decorations. The other day my son mentioned there weren’t many visitors. He decided to figure it out and put in some new sidewalks for the visitors to use.

The kids are learning to care for their game as a whole in order to reap the reward of more visitors.

Children Making Friends

Gems are valuable. One easy way to get more gems is to have friends. You can link up with friends via Game Center. Each day you can share 1 gem with a friend. The more friends you have, the easier you can accumulate these valuables. Additionally, you can visit your friends’ islands and click on party hats. If there is a party on their island and you click the hat, more coins for you. My kids love looking at their friends’ islands. Their friends are all further along than we are.

The kids are learning to appreciate their friends’ accomplishments and remembering to share their gems each day.

Inability to Rectify a Mistake

This lesson has been learned a few times. The game will prompt you to confirm you choice to upgrade, spend extra coins, and if you say yes, the decision has been made. My kids have accidently spent gems unnecessarily and then they are bummed.

The kids have learned that sometimes, you are responsible for what happens and Mom can’t fix it.

Children Having Fun and Teamwork

This is the real reason the kids play. My kids love to see that their dragon won the event or which dragon hatched. They enjoy visiting their friend’s islands to see the coveted Rainbow dragon that we have yet to breed. They are excited when a friend sends a gem and even more excited that gems are available for them to share. They work together as a group to maintain their islands.

The kids have learned that while practicing teamwork, you can have fun.

I guarantee there are many simulation apps that foster the same skills. My kids are into dragons and this feeds their desire to collect things and make more dragons. I enjoy watching them thank each other for collecting money while they were at school. I appreciate their desire to get the Rainbow dragon and watch them thoughtfully chose the next 2 dragons that enter the breeding cave. Their fingers are crossed each time. Most of all, my kids have fun watching each other take their turn to improve the family islands and build our game.

That being said, I just noticed that the rain stopped.

Kids! Electronics off! We are heading outside!

© 2012 Karen Lackey


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