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

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  • University of Birmingham


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.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2017 USENIX Workshop on Advances in Security Education (ASE 17)
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2017