School of Computing

Computing students develop serious game for Cyber Security education

30 July 2021

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A new educational serious game will help undergraduates learn about cyber security, thanks to innovative work by students at the School of Computing.

Cyber security expertise is in high demand, as new technologies continue to emerge, and cybercrime becomes a growing threat to society. The serious game titled SherLOCKED was created in the style of a 2D top-down puzzle adventure and is designed to consolidate students' knowledge of foundational security concepts (e.g. security threats and attacks and risk management). With an investigative style theme, the Game's name is a play on the fictional private detective, Sherlock Holmes.

With gamification and serious games progressively being used over a host of fields, Kent students Alice Jaffray and Conor Finn developed SherLOCKED as a new way to engage students with content and to complement more traditional approaches to learning.

After implementing and researching the impact of the Game among undergraduate computer science students, Alice and Conor found it to be an effective and fun solution that prompted further engagement with content that students were introduced to during lectures. This research lends additional evidence to the use of serious games in supporting learning about cyber security.

The students' research paper detailing these findings has been published at the 15th International Symposium on Human Aspects of Information Security & Assurance (HAISA 2021).

Alice said: 'We hope the Game can be used as lecture or revision material for future computer science students on the Introduction to Cyber Security module at Kent. It feels amazing to have had our research published at a conference as undergraduates. It has given me faith in myself and my abilities and I hope I can use that to push me forward into my career.'

Conor said: 'Our research allowed us to gain real-world insight into whether gamification can be used effectively in an undergraduate setting. The code and problem-solving skills I have developed during this project and my studies have been highly useful. I came onto my undergraduate course with no coding knowledge and had not written a single line of code before, so that in itself is a testament to the lecturers and class supervisors that have helped me along the way.'

Dr Jason Nurse, who supervised the project and leads the Introduction to Cyber Security module at the School of Computing, added: 'I pitched this project as part of this academic year's Introduction to Cyber Security module and asked students to create a game that I could deploy in lectures to help students learn and revise. SherLOCKED was very well received by students. I am delighted for Alice and Conor getting this research project published which is a significant achievement at undergraduate level.'

Now Alice and Conor have completed their final year of undergraduate studies at Kent, they both hope to pursue careers in software engineering. Alice is keen to inspire other young women to get into technology, while Conor has secured a role at the Science and Technology Facilities Council writing software for the analysis of data from the ISIS Neutron and Muon source.

The research paper 'SherLOCKED: A Detective-Themed Serious Game for Cyber Security Education' is published by 15th International Symposium on Human Aspects of Information Security & Assurance (HAISA). doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-81111-2_4

SherLOCKED detective character
SherLOCKED detective character


SherLOCKED screenshot showing correct quiz answer
SherLOCKED screenshot showing correct quiz answer


SherLOCKED screenshot showing incorrect quiz answer
SherLOCKED screenshot showing incorrect quiz answer
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Last Updated: 12/09/2013