A serious game to teach secure coding in introductory programming: Design, development and initial evaluation

Marcus Christopher Oania, Purdue University


Reports of software related security breaches are becoming weekly occurrences. With newer high-profile attacks, secure coding and Information Assurance (IA) has become a subject of national and worldwide focus. Clearly, there is a need for computer science graduates with a background in information assurance. Unfortunately, it is not clear that there are many students pursuing advanced degrees with a focus on IA, and those who do, end up being hired out of their programs by government agencies. Given that a vast majority of programmers and software engineers do not have advanced degrees, there is an obvious need to teach these practices at the undergraduate level. A prototype serious game was designed and developed by the research team to teach secure coding practices to undergraduate students. In order to produce a valid and effective game, a usability test was performed on the two levels produced by the research team. This study sought to prove the current game is engaging and usable without further improvements. Although the game had adequate engagement, motivation, and appropriately conveyed relations of data validation and checking return values to game play, the study revealed the produced levels need to be re-worked and improved.




Adamo-Villani, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Adult education|Educational technology|Vocational education

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