Jail, Hero or Drug Lord? Turning a Cyber Security Course Into a 11 Week Choose Your Own Adventure Story

Tom Chothia, Sam Holdcroft, Andreea-Ina Radu and Richard J. Thomas
Submitted to the USENIX Adancements in Security Education Workshop (USENIX ASE'17)

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In this paper we argue that narrative and story are important elements of gamification, and we describe a framework that we have developed which adds a story to an 11 week cyber security course. The students play the part of a new IT security employee at a company and are asked to complete a number of security tasks, for which they receive flags. The students can send the flags they find to a number of different characters to move the story along in different ways. As the story unfolds they find deceit, corruption and ultimately murder, and their choices lead them to one of three different endings. Our framework for running the story and the exercises is completely contained in a single VM, which the students each download at the start of the course. This means that no backend or cloud support is needed. We report on the results of qualitative and quantitative evaluations of the course that provides evidence that the story increased student engagement and results.


This paper was presented on Tuesday, 15th August 2017 by Andreea-Ina Radu at at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel, Vancouver, Canada.


The paper is available here: ase17paper.pdf