DragonVale

Common Sense Media says

Entertaining sim experience requires patience -- or cash.

Age

2
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5
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8
9
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11
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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

The game could use a more robust tutorial. It explains the basics, but leaves out next steps. 

Violence
Not applicable
Sex

The game includes a breeding cave, and one of the primary activities is breeding new dragon species. There is nothing explicit here, but it could still raise questions for younger kids.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

This free app is one of the top grossing apps in the app store. There are in-app purchases for coins, gems, and treats. Coins and treats can be obtained through regular play, while gems require a special (cash) purchase. You can progress through the game without gems, but the game moves much more slowly. Parents should be prepared for pressure to buy gems and will want to consider turning off in-app purchases while kids play.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Some privacy concerns. Players can opt in to Apple’s Game Center to track scores and achievements, and for some games, challenge friends. Players can send and receive friend requests using an email address or Game Center nickname, revealing the first and last name associated with each party’s Apple ID and, in the case of email requests, the sender’s email address. With iOS 5, players can opt to have a private or public profile, which can include a photo. With a public profile, your real name is visible to all other players, and Game Center will recommend you to other players using your real name. With a private profile, only your friends can see your real name, and Game Center will not recommend you to other players. Players can also connect with friends on Facebook. Players can visit other players they are not connected with, but names are not revealed.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Dragonvale is a simulation game that allows players to build a dragon park. You can buy new buildings, decorate, and make your park more attractive for visitors. You'll also feed and care for your dragons, as well as breed them to discover new species. The game does require some patience as it can take time to earn the resources to buy a new building or move to the next level. In-app purchases of gems can speed things up.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • money

Skills

Self-Direction

  • goal-setting
  • work to achieve goals

Responsibility & Ethics

  • fiscal responsibility

What Kids Can Learn

DragonVale wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Math

  • money

Skills

Self-Direction

  • goal-setting
  • work to achieve goals

Responsibility & Ethics

  • fiscal responsibility

DragonVale wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.

This Learning Rating review was written by Christy Matte

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Kids start with a tutorial on the basics of building their dragon park. Then they'll proceed to hatch and raise dragons, feeding and caring for them. Kids use the in-game currency, gems, to buy new buildings, decorate, and make their park more attractive for visitors. This requires patience or cash, as players can run out of gems quickly; in-app purchases of gems can speed things up.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

DRAGONVALE starts slowly. You'll buy your first dragons and then you'll wait to save up money and build up experience to expand. Once the game gets going, however, it's fun to breed the dragons and seek out new species. This is not a game for kids who need immediate gratification, however, as tasks can easily take eight hours or more to complete without buying gems to speed things along.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:September 30, 2011
Category:Simulation Games
Size:18.70 MB
Publisher:Backflip Studios
Version:1.1.1
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.1 or later

This review of DragonVale was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written byMTaylor405 May 2, 2013
AGE
4
QUALITY
 

With Basic Precautions its a Fun Learning Tool

Full review below.---------------tl;dr - If you take basic, common sense precautions. Dragonvale is a perfect game to foster organization, strategic thinking, and patience in a fun way. If you don't take the time to check what your kid is playing, you're in for a nasty financial surprise. Turn off automatic purchases. ------------------------------My eldest younger brother (23) and I (27) have shared custody of our youngest brothers (5) and (8) since our parents deaths. I say this to give context. I am probably younger and on the other side of the digital divide from many parents here. Both of us elder siblings work long hours, and with the 23-yr-old in medical school, we have little money and not a lot of quality time with the kids that doesn't revolve around homework help and dinner. My brothers only have smart phones because I work for a iPhone device company that lets me take home obsolete phones, and I don't give the kids a data plan. Dragonvale is the perfect game for them.--------------The Good: ---------1) Dragonvale is a free app, and every feature can be played for free! Almost everything in the game has a wait time on average 3 hours, with a maximum of 48 hours. It's a great motivator to teach your kids patience without going beyond what a small kid can tolerate.------------2) The game is very strategy heavy, but the strategy isn't complex. To breed certain types of dragons, achieve goals, and build up your park, you must utilize basic critical thinking. Your children can easily work it out themselves, but it teaches legitimate game theory, how chance works, and forethought.----------3) Dragons! Pretty Decorations! Exploding Volcanoes! Kids love this because it's FUN!-------4) It is low or high commitment depending on play style, so it's easy to play with your kids. All four of us play Dragonvale, and it's a real bonding activity. -------------------------------- The Bad: Everything in the game can be made easy. All waiting and strategy eliminated IF YOU SPEND MONEY. The cheapest in game purchase is $1.99, the most expensive -- $99.99 --! If you have automatic purchase on, and your kid is impulsive or thinks he can get away with it, you'll be in for a surprising credit card bill. All of the negative reviews center around unexpected charges, some even calling them fraudulent. 30 seconds in the game reveals that a $99 purchase is as easy to make as a $2 one, and it can save you weeks of game play time. There's no fraud, just kids who take the shortcut and parents too uninvolved to catch them at it and/or unwilling to place the blame for the charges on the real responsible party.------------------------------------ I unequivocally and enthusiastically recommend Dragonvale . . . if you turn off automatic purchases.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bySteveSF June 9, 2012
AGE
8
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Good game, if kids understand not to use real money

As long as kids understand that everything can be done without in-app purchases (our number 1 rule for this game is no real money), it is a very good sim-type strategy game with no violence and very good graphics. It can be a good tool (with significant parent involvement) to teach creative problem-solving and patience.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written byslukster October 15, 2012
AGE
5
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

My 5 yr old and I LOVE IT!!

I am not sure how my 5 year old son found this game on my wife's Iphone but one day I found him playing it and having a blast. After watching him play (to make sure it was appropriate for him, which it is) and playing it for a while I am as addicted to the game as he is. I find myself playing it when my wife and kids are in bed. As crazy as this may seem this game has created real bonding moments with my son. He usually wakes up at 6am and asks my wife to play on her phone and then he comes over to me all excited to show me his newest habitat and dragons. I have discussed strategy with him (don't spend the gems to hurry up the breeding process!! Save them for a hard to get dragon!) and how to save his gold coins for something he wants. It has also taught him patience since it does take hours for some of the dragons to breed and the eggs to hatch. It just adds to the suspense and fun of the game. While this game won't make your kid eligible for MENSA, it is a safe, fun stategy game that they will enjoy. For the unfortunate parents who realized the hard way that there are options to buy gems, treats and coins using real money. Don't give you kids your Itunes password! While my son knows my wife's phone password to unlock it, from the first moment he started playing on the phone she made sure he did not have access to purchase any apps or any other things. Every once in a while he will click on something that will prompt him to buy something and enter the itunes password. He quickly realized (after we told him "no" many times when he got to these purchase screens) that he can't go any further and he just goes back. Sorry to say this but it was parental error that allowed the kids to run up the bill, not the games fault. But definately something to keep in mind before handing over the Iphone.

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