UTSA Develops Game to Teach Cybersecurity to Kids

The Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS) at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is currently working on a tabletop card game called Cyber Threat Protector that aims to educate children about cybersecurity, according to UTSA Today.

The game will be featuring cybersecurity principles and safety targeted to elementary students as young as 8 years old.

CIAS director and UTSA’s Department of Computer Science professor Greg White said, “High-profile cybersecurity hacks continue to threaten the nation’s and communities’ security.”

Game to Teach Cybersecurity to Kids

White suggests that the increase in such cases requires more professionals who are skilled and experienced on the matter. He also said that having more aware cyber citizens would help, especially in building the future workforce.

Cyber Protector is designed to help students understand the significance of cybersecurity information and strategies. This two-player card game is inspired by existing card games that children are familiar with.

The goal of the match is for players to “quickly build their network while simultaneously protecting their network from cyber arracks,” according to the UTSA Today report. With the right application in education, the game can complement STEM curricula.

Cyber Threat Protector comes with a companion game called Cyber Threat Defender, a collectible card game with a similar goal aimed at middle and high school students.

Educators in San Antonio were able to beta test the tabletop card game. Participants in the test were optimistic about its incorporation in the classroom, clubs, enrichment activities, and even recreational use.

This is a favorable outcome for the developers as the primary concern for its creation is “fun first and educational second” and “simple to learn and easy to play,” said CIAS game development director Larry Sjelin.

Sjelin added that it “is also a great way to keep young players engaged whether in the classroom or for distance learning activities.”

The game is targeted to elementary students because the existing STEM and cyber-related games are usually aimed at middle and high school students.

Cyber Threat Protector will be produced and distributed without cost to teachers and will be funded by sponsorships and donations.

Aside from developing educational games, the CIAS has also been holding cybersecurity competitions, training and exercises, and educational game development events. It is also a member of various organizations focused on cybersecurity, making it a “national leader” in state and community cyber protection efforts.