There’s a reason why video games are such a popular pastime for adults and children alike. These games are incredibly adept at keeping the users engaged by dividing the steps required to accomplish a task and rewarding them at every step of the way through points or in-game items.

This strength leads to more immersion for the player and creates a sense of involvement with the content and story. The concept that makes this a successful practice has been studied for years and has been dubbed gamification. The main application of this concept has been to make educational content more appealing.

A 2019 study found that 88% said gamification makes them feel happier when engaging with training. Since one of the main struggles with cyber security awareness programs is getting employees to finish the required content, gamification features are a real boon.

Implementing these features can be a bit of a shot in the dark if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s crucial to select a purveyor that truly understands gamification and considers it a core feature of their platform. Let’s look at a few of the main benefits of gamification on cyber security awareness programs.

1.  Immersive Content

One of the main reasons video games hook the players is that they have exciting storylines with lovable characters and captivating worlds. It’s one of the main reasons why people purchase video games and keep coming back to them time and time again.

While this might not be a realistic goal for a cyber security awareness campaign, it’s still no excuse to have text-based content with a simple quiz at the end and expect all your users to stay interested. In the era your users live in, they’re used to multiple types of content and stimulation, and your campaign should be no different.

For example, instead of the typically written introductions, use animated videos with two characters that come back through the discussed topics. Similarly, don’t be afraid to use humour around subjects like password creation to keep the users engaged and to allow them to relate to the situation.

Another great tool in your arsenal should be to tie the game’s story to the larger subjects in a campaign. Bonus points if you can link it to the reality of your organization as well. Create an experience that puts users at the center of the action and pushes them to care about the issues you cover.

2.  Increase Participation And Course Completion

If your users have fun while they’re learning about cyber security, they’re more likely to complete the course, and maybe even look forward to the next one. This can only happen if the content of the program is engaging and fun.

One of the great tools to get people involved in your cyber security awareness campaign is allocating points for quizzes and a leaderboard to track everyone’s progress. This technique is a tried-and-true concept present in some of the first video games ever created, but it works because it taps into human competitiveness.

Getting points after each quiz during the program is a great way to get users to finish the course. It encourages them to go through all the content so they can later compare their score with their coworkers and further increases the immersion in the content.

A leaderboard not only increases the chances a user will complete the content to claim their spot in the leaderboard, but it can also help the campaign’s optics across the company. For example, the manager of a division would be encouraged to tell his employees to complete the course so they make a strong showing on the global organization leaderboard.

3.  Gamified Learning For Better Engagement

Most cyber security awareness programs follow the same formula: an introduction, a teaching section and a quiz to test the users on the content. Any occasion to break from that mould should be taken as it will inevitably lead to better engagement.

People enjoy video games because of their interactive nature. When selecting a cyber security awareness platform, pay close attention to the different types of learning options they offer. In some cases, they can come very close to features you’d find in a non-eLearning video game.

An example would be to leverage a mystery-style game where users have to click on different elements of an image to find clues pertaining to the subject being taught. This provides a nice break from the typical learning methods and ensures the user remains engaged with the content.

4.  Facilitate Behavior Change

A common issue with cyber security awareness campaigns is that users don’t think the content is directed at them specifically. They complete the required material but they never integrate it to their lives because they weren’t able to relate to it enough.

Personalization and localization of content can help with this but one of the best solutions to this issue is gamification. When users have to interact with the content and get feedback loops in the form of points, they become more involved with the subjects. This leads to easier internalization of the concepts and ultimately positive behavior changes.

A great example would be a reproduction of an email client where users have to click on the elements they believe constitute a fraudulent email or phishing attempt. Since they’ve already identified the issues in the same setting they use every day, they’ll be much warier once they get back to their real email client.

5.  Level Up Existing Campaigns And Programs

The beauty of gamification is that it doesn’t only apply to your future campaigns and program. These elements can be integrated in your regular programs that have to be re-run every few months like password strength and phishing.

Some of the elements discussed earlier require a specific platform to execute, but certain gamification features can easily be implemented anywhere. A simple quiz can become much more engaging if you add a time limit to it, leading the user to be competitive against themselves to remember the answer in time.

The Gamification Era

It’s important to realize that this is not a trend or a fad. The E-Learning gamification market was expected to reach 1.5 billion dollars in 2020. These concepts have been studied at length by psychologists and used by video game developers to grow their industry to billions of dollars. Gamification has proven time and again to improve educational program and is a logical next step.

It’s a real plus for cyber security awareness programs because completion of a course often isn’t enough or a real gauge of how the information was internalized. And unlike other educational programs, the repercussions of a student not applying the learnings can have dire consequences.

Gamification is a simple and efficient way to ensure your users learn what you’re teaching and integrate it into their day-to-day lives.

The first Terranova Security Serious Game module is now available. Watch this video for more information about the Terranova Security Serious Game module. You can also check out the Terranova Security website for all the details about the organization’s industry-leading security awareness training content.


Gamification for Cyber Security Awareness Training Success

Read the whitepaper to learn how to best motivate and engage your users with your security awareness program and more!