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Design of a Serious Game for
Cybersecurity Ethics Training
Malcolm Ryan

Mitchell McEwan
Vedant Sansare
Paul Formosa
Deborah Richards

Michael Hitchens
School of Computing & Dept of Philosophy
Macquarie University, Australia
Overview
Serious Moral Games

• The judgement-action gap

Design Theories

• Four Component Model

Requirements

• 5 Ethical Principles

• Learning Outcomes

Design

• Narrative

• Game Mechanics

Re
fl
ections

• Systemic vs Scripted Moral Play

Conclusion

• Making the leap of abstraction
Serious Moral Games
Game Based Learning for Moral Development
Quandary 

(FableVision Studios, 2012; 

Hilliard, L. J., et al. 2018)
uMed: Your Choice

(Kobold Games, 2019; 

Katsarov et al., 2020)
Four component model
Cognitive and A
ff
ective Capabilities for Moral Intelligence
Moral Focus: Why is morality a priority? What motivates the player to treat moral
decisions as moral decisions, and not instrumentally? 

Moral Sensitivity: How is moral content presented to the player? Are the important
factors clearly signposted or is the player expected to recognise them without prompting? 

Moral Judgement: What are the issues at stake? What are the di
ff
erent moral codes or
norms that might drive players’ choices? What factors complicate their choices? 

Moral Action: Is a moral problem solved once a choice is made, or does the player have
to put it into action? How di
ffi
cult is it to put your choices into action? What skill is
required? 

(Rest et al 1999; Christen et al, 2012; Staines, Formosa, Ryan, 2019)
Cybersecurity Ethics
A Principalist Framework
(Formosa, Wilson, Richards 2021)
Requirements
Learning Outcomes
1. To establish and maintain moral engagement in the work in a dynamic environment with other priorities and
distractions (Moral Focus).

2. To demonstrate the ability to identify the
fi
ve di
ff
erent categories of ethical issues relevant to cybersecurity
(Moral Sensitivity).

3. To recognise competing perspectives in ethical decision making and have empathy for di
ff
erent points of
view (Moral Sensitivity).

4. To make decisions based on ethical principles and relevant cybersecurity factors within time and resource
constraints (Moral Judgement).

5. To reconsider and re-evaluate moral judgements at multiple decision points based on an emerging scenario
as new information comes to light (Moral Judgement).

6. To maintain ethical consistency across multiple decision points (Moral Judgement).

7. To learn to strategise ways to achieve competing ethical and pragmatic goals (Moral Action).
Design
Prescott & Krueger
Player character “Alex”

• Lead Security Analyst 

• Middle of the org-chart

Non-player characters

• Superiors: Mariella (CTO), Frederick (HR), etc

• Subordinates: Zheng, Shiva, Blossom

• Peer: Ariyo
Design
Plot – Denial of Service Attack
How to address the problem? 

• Taking the site down, Adding bandwidth, CAPTCHAs, Counter-attacking.

• Non-male
fi
cence, Bene
fi
cence, Justice

• Whether to seek authorisation for riskier solutions (under time pressure).

• Autonomy, Explicability, Non-male
fi
cence
Work in progress
• First major prototype complete

• External playtesting of this prototype is now underway 

• Experimental validation planned for 2023
Reflections
Four Component Model
• A useful set of “lenses” for design.

• Provided perspectives on the di
ff
erent skills involved in moral decision-
making

• Supports the formulation of learning outcomes and design elements.
Reflections
Scripted vs Systemic Moral Play
Conclusions
Morality is not a domain in and of itself, rather it is an interpretation we place
over other more concrete domains of learning

To design a serious moral game in such domains, we must not only model
ethics but also the domain itself. 

With what
fi
delity should we do this?
Design of a Serious Game for Cybersecurity Ethics Training

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Design of a Serious Game for Cybersecurity Ethics Training

  • 1. Design of a Serious Game for Cybersecurity Ethics Training Malcolm Ryan
 Mitchell McEwan Vedant Sansare Paul Formosa Deborah Richards
 Michael Hitchens School of Computing & Dept of Philosophy Macquarie University, Australia
  • 2. Overview Serious Moral Games • The judgement-action gap Design Theories • Four Component Model Requirements • 5 Ethical Principles • Learning Outcomes Design • Narrative • Game Mechanics Re fl ections • Systemic vs Scripted Moral Play Conclusion • Making the leap of abstraction
  • 3. Serious Moral Games Game Based Learning for Moral Development Quandary 
 (FableVision Studios, 2012; 
 Hilliard, L. J., et al. 2018) uMed: Your Choice
 (Kobold Games, 2019; 
 Katsarov et al., 2020)
  • 4. Four component model Cognitive and A ff ective Capabilities for Moral Intelligence Moral Focus: Why is morality a priority? What motivates the player to treat moral decisions as moral decisions, and not instrumentally? Moral Sensitivity: How is moral content presented to the player? Are the important factors clearly signposted or is the player expected to recognise them without prompting? Moral Judgement: What are the issues at stake? What are the di ff erent moral codes or norms that might drive players’ choices? What factors complicate their choices? Moral Action: Is a moral problem solved once a choice is made, or does the player have to put it into action? How di ffi cult is it to put your choices into action? What skill is required? (Rest et al 1999; Christen et al, 2012; Staines, Formosa, Ryan, 2019)
  • 5. Cybersecurity Ethics A Principalist Framework (Formosa, Wilson, Richards 2021)
  • 6. Requirements Learning Outcomes 1. To establish and maintain moral engagement in the work in a dynamic environment with other priorities and distractions (Moral Focus). 2. To demonstrate the ability to identify the fi ve di ff erent categories of ethical issues relevant to cybersecurity (Moral Sensitivity). 3. To recognise competing perspectives in ethical decision making and have empathy for di ff erent points of view (Moral Sensitivity). 4. To make decisions based on ethical principles and relevant cybersecurity factors within time and resource constraints (Moral Judgement). 5. To reconsider and re-evaluate moral judgements at multiple decision points based on an emerging scenario as new information comes to light (Moral Judgement). 6. To maintain ethical consistency across multiple decision points (Moral Judgement). 7. To learn to strategise ways to achieve competing ethical and pragmatic goals (Moral Action).
  • 7. Design Prescott & Krueger Player character “Alex” • Lead Security Analyst • Middle of the org-chart Non-player characters • Superiors: Mariella (CTO), Frederick (HR), etc • Subordinates: Zheng, Shiva, Blossom • Peer: Ariyo
  • 8. Design Plot – Denial of Service Attack How to address the problem? • Taking the site down, Adding bandwidth, CAPTCHAs, Counter-attacking. • Non-male fi cence, Bene fi cence, Justice • Whether to seek authorisation for riskier solutions (under time pressure). • Autonomy, Explicability, Non-male fi cence
  • 9.
  • 10.
  • 11.
  • 12.
  • 13.
  • 14.
  • 15. Work in progress • First major prototype complete • External playtesting of this prototype is now underway • Experimental validation planned for 2023
  • 16. Reflections Four Component Model • A useful set of “lenses” for design. • Provided perspectives on the di ff erent skills involved in moral decision- making • Supports the formulation of learning outcomes and design elements.
  • 18. Conclusions Morality is not a domain in and of itself, rather it is an interpretation we place over other more concrete domains of learning To design a serious moral game in such domains, we must not only model ethics but also the domain itself. With what fi delity should we do this?