For Educators

We expect that this game might be particularly interesting to:

  • Instructors of high school computer science courses;
  • Instructors of first- or second-year introductory computer science courses (e.g., introduction to programming courses or computing in society courses);
  • Instructors of computer security courses.

Educational Goals

The following - extracted from our technical report - describes some concrete objectives for Control-Alt-Hack™. These objectives are in addition to one of our primary goals: to create a game that is fun to play.

Target Audiences. Our primary target audience is people with an affinity for computer science and engineering but without significant computer security education, training, or experience. We target in particular those who are early in their careers, including computer science and engineering undergraduate students, high school students, and recent graduates. To the extent that it is possible, we also try to make our game as appealing and educational as possible to a broader demographic, including: high school and undergraduate students generally interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM subjects), but not necessarily computer science; more experienced computer scientists later in their careers; and the broader public.

Awareness Goals. Our primary goal is to increase people’s awareness of computer security needs and challenges, so that they can be more informed technology builders and consumers. This objective includes the below sub-goals:

  1. To impart an understanding of the importance of computer security, and the potential risks with inadequate security safeguards.

  2. To convey the breadth of technologies for which computer security is relevant, including not only conventional computing platforms like laptops and Web servers, but also emerging platforms like consumer technologies and cyber-physical systems.

  3. To highlight the diversity of potential threats that security designers must consider, the creativity of attackers, and the challenging nature of building secure systems.

  4. Technology innovations bring many positive benefits and we believe that it is important for security risks not to overshadow those benefits. Our fourth primary goal is:

  5. To disseminate the idea that technologies can have both benefit and risks.

  6. Secondary Goals: Perception Goals. We also view this game as an opportunity to help address gender imbalance issues and negative stereotypes sometimes associated with computer science and computer security. This objective includes the below sub-goals:

  7. To work against negative or dissuasive stereotypes about people in these fields, and to allow all players to associate with one or more of the characters, and envision themselves in the field

  8. To highlight the variety of professional and personal opportunities available to people with these skills.

  9. We also seek to use the game as an opportunity to clarify public perceptions of computer security, including:

  10. To help reclaim the connotation of the word “hack” as a creative and exploratory activity, rather than a destructive one.

Additional Information

Please see our technical report for a detailed discussion of our educational goals and the design of Control-Alt-Hack™.

Control-Alt-Hack™ deals with a number of the Big Ideas and Key Concepts from Computer Science: Principles. Specifically, it is designed to address Big Idea 1: Creativity (Key Concepts A and B), Big Idea 3: Data (Key Concepts A, B, and C), Big Idea 6: Internet (Key Concept C), and Big Idea 7: Impact (Key Concepts A, B, C, and D).

The pyramid logo is a registered trademark of Steve Jackson Games Incorporated, used under license by University of Washington. All rights reserved. Game mechanics based on the game Ninja Burger, copyright © 2009 by Steve Jackson Games; used under license.

Copyright © 2012 University of Washington. All rights reserved. "Control-Alt-Hack" and the logo are Trademarks of the University of Washington.