Publication Date

July 2023


Gamification in education presents a number of benefits that can theoretically facilitate higher engagement and motivation among students when learning complex, technical concepts. As an innovative, high-potential educational tool, many educators and researchers are attempting to implement more effective gamification into undergraduate coursework. Cyber Security Operations (CSO) education is no exception. CSO education traditionally requires comprehension of complex concepts requiring a high level of technical and abstract thinking. By properly applying gamification to complex CSO concepts, engagement in students should see an increase. While an increase is expected, no comprehensive study of CSO gamification applications (GA) has yet been undertaken to fully synthesize the use and outcomes of existing implementations. To better understand and explore gamification in CSO education, a deeper analysis of current gamification applications is needed.

This research outlines and conducts a methodical, comprehensive literature review using the Systematic Mapping Study process to identify implemented and evaluated GAs in undergraduate CSO education. This research serves as both a comprehensive repository and synthesis of existing GAs in cybersecurity, and as a starting point for further CSO GA research. With such a review, future studies can be undertaken to better understand CSO GAs.

A total of 74 papers were discovered which evaluated GAs undergraduate CSO education, through literature published between 2007 and June 2022. Some publications discussed multiple GAs, resulting in a total of 80 undergraduate CSO GAs listing at https://bit.ly/3S260GS. The study outlines each GA identified and provides a short overview of each GA. It also provides a summary of engagement-level characteristics currently exhibited in existing CSO education GAs and discusses common themes and findings discovered in the course of the study.