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Control-Alt-Hack: Can You Teach Hacking with a Card Game?

By - Source: UW | B 7 comments

Probably not, but scientists at the University of Washington (UW) say that it can be fun playing a card game with hacking content, while bringing some educational value to the table as well.

The question of the game: Do you have what it takes to be an ethical hacker? Can you step into the shoes of a professional paid to outsmart supposedly locked-down systems?

The game "Control-Alt-Hack" isn't targeting computer professionals; it is designed to appeal to an audience aged 14 to 30 and change their perception of computer security. The scenario puts players into a the shoes of an employee of Hackers Inc., which gets paid for hacking into their clients' systems. The challenges they face have different levels of difficulty and seriousness.

The game, which provides a game time of about an hour and includes dice, game cards, credit tokens and money tokens, requires "some knowledge of computer science," but not necessarily of computer security. We went out of our way to incorporate humor," said co-creator Tamara Denning, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering. "We wanted it to be based in reality, but more importantly we want it to be fun for the players." The educational aspects is not the key aspect of the game, but it's deemed to be a side benefit.

Perhaps it is just me, but I wonder if teenagers today would really want to play a hacker game with cards? Sure, the idea is to provide the broadest access to the game content, but an electronic version or an iPod/Android app may have been the more interesting variant of teaching hacking ethics. In the end, to be interested in hacking would require a student to already have used and possibly own an electronic device. Those who couldn't care less about smartphones, tablets and perhaps even PCs may not be interested in hacking anyway.

 

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  • 1 Hide
    kniped , July 26, 2012 3:09 PM
    Sounds sweet!
  • 4 Hide
    g00fysmiley , July 26, 2012 3:38 PM
    i'd buy it :) 
  • 5 Hide
    jhansonxi , July 26, 2012 4:35 PM
    Reminds me of "Hacker" by Steve Jackson Games which was set in the BBS era:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_%28card_game%29

    There is also the video game Uplink but it is more cinematic than low-level hacking:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uplink_%28video_game%29

    Another computer game, Endgame: Singularity, is about survival as an AI on a network:
    http://www.emhsoft.com/singularity/
  • 3 Hide
    eddieroolz , July 26, 2012 5:54 PM
    Quote:
    Sure, the idea is to provide the broadest access to the game content, but an electronic version or an iPod/Android app may have been the more interesting variant of teaching hacking ethics.


    Keep in mind, many households and individuals cannot/chooses not to buy an iPad/tablet. Card games are still common among regular people because its a good way to play something on the fly.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 26, 2012 7:41 PM
    Making it a card game is really more of a novelty and/or an academic exercise for the UW doctoral students who made this. I wouldn't criticize them too harshly for it.
  • 2 Hide
    relznir , July 26, 2012 9:02 PM
    smash the stack!
  • 0 Hide
    hetneo , July 28, 2012 8:53 PM
    Tsk tsk tsk, by the number of comments I would presume that the average TH reader is younger than the Uplink game, and thus is of the opinion that card games are appropriate only for us dinosaurs in late 20s, or older.