Gaming helps engineers

think security

The behaviour

Our client, a UK government agency, wanted to develop a way of improving the security awareness of engineers so that they adopt a ‘security-minded’ approach: thinking about what’s sensitive and what’s not about the security of the infrastructure they work on.

The big question

Could we find a way of making thinking about everything from the potential sensitive attributes of street furniture performing a security function to the vulnerabilties of CCTV systems natural to an audience of engineers?

A selection of highlights from the games

What we did

We developed two 2D animated games – one rolling along the street and another inside an office building– challenging players to identify security-sensitive parts of the environment and helping them learn how to protect infrastructure in the process.

The games were hosted on a microsite we developed to showcase our client’s security resources. We also delivered a campaign on social media and LinkedIn with a leading professional institution to drive up traffic to the site.

The games  

Our games invited players to identify security-sensitive assets in the surroundings as they scrolled through each scene. By putting themselves in the driver’s seat, users got real-time feedback on their choices of what’s sensitive, and what’s not.

They then completed a series of multiple-choice quizzes about which asset attributes were particularly vulnerable to physical or cyber-attack, learning about potential weaknesses that could be exploited by threat actors – some obvious and others much less so. The aim was that engineers would consider what specific information needs to be given a greater level protection  to help make buildings and infrastructure more secure.

A selection of illustrations & assets from the project

Why it worked

Gamification 

People love to play games. Taking users on a journey through a streetscape while challenging them to think hard about security and answer some quiz questions was an engaging way of presenting a serious subject. Rewarding people with progress markers and acknowledging correct answers helped to keep it fun.

Generation effect

Want people to learn something? Let them figure it out. We remember information we work out for ourselves far better than information that’s simply presented to us (‘generation effect’), so asking players to think through the security vulnerabilities ensured the game would have a lasting impact.

Storyteller bias

We also tend to remember information presented to us in story format, so developing two animated ‘real life’ scenarios was a great way of creating a memorable context for all that in-depth security information, helping the experience to resonate with the audience.

The results

First, players of the security-minded game experienced an enjoyable introduction to a serious subject. While the temptation might have been to dictate voluminous slabs of text or building management specifications to users, our approach hooked people in, getting them playing and learning at the same time.

This was a great, fun interaction that highlights security.” – Learner feedback 

Second, and most important, we increased knowledge about building security among the audience.

“This training has widened my knowledge about how to keep myself and co-workers safe in a work environment.” – Learner feedback 

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