Abstract. Although there has been a lot of interest in the employment of video games in education, there are no clear design guidelines. In this work, after surveying previous work in video game design, we highlighted three design principles: 1) engage the students with a story and a hero, 2) employ familiar game mechanics from popular video games, and 3) provide constructive trial and error gameplay for learning. As an illustrating example of those principles, we designed a video game that teaches addition and subtraction of signed numbers. Finally, we outline several more serious games that have adopted the above design principles. The results should be useful for designers, teachers, and researchers who work in the area of serious games for learning. Further research should extend and experimentally validate these principles according to the discipline and the learning style of students.