Alissa for North Olania! is a mobile-friendly, single-player choose your own adventure game designed to teach digital security best practices - especially to those active in political or civic campaigns. As the campaign manager for Alissa Orme, a first-time presidential hopeful in the fictional country of North Olania, players are tasked with boosting Alissa’s popularity to help her win the election, while navigating digital security incidents on a shoestring budget. The game is built using Twine - an open-source tool for telling interactive stories.
All individuals, especially those active in political or civic organizations (including but not limited to campaigns), can benefit from the digital security lessons shared in the game. The Alissa for North Olania game content is framed as introductory, so no prior experience with campaigns, technology, or digital security in general is required.
While traditional resources (e.g. training, technical networks, courses, manuals) designed to strengthen the digital security capacity of civic and political actors are critically important, their lessons often go unheeded because the topic feels disconnected from these groups’ daily priorities and objectives. This disconnect often manifests in low staff buy-in and/or limited leadership support within organizations when it comes to designing, adopting and enforcing digital security best practices. To help democratic actors understand the important role that digital security (or insecurity) can play, this choose your own adventure game gives players an opportunity to experience cyberattacks and their consequences in a safe, fictional environment - hopefully before suffering the harms that result from successful attacks in the real world.
Mobile-friendly, and designed as part of an asynchronous alternative to a standard “awareness raising training”, the Alissa for North Olania! game is particularly relevant for programs working with at-risk and/or politically active partners (especially those within low-resourced civic and political campaigns) where direct, synchronous engagement is challenging and existing risk awareness and/or digital security measures are limited. To enhance the likelihood of sustained change, the game is best supported by follow-up learning or in-depth support focused on translating increased partner risk awareness into tangible, sustainable risk mitigation. For situations where direct, synchronous engagement is a possibility, NDI’s CyberSim for Campaigns may be a good tool to consider.
Apart from direct program needs, the game is also a fun, free, and easy-to-distribute method through which the general public can be exposed to the importance of basic digital security best practices. The game is well suited as an engaging, youth-friendly standalone exercise for individuals who lack exposure to basic digital security best practices. In such instances, public distribution via networks, social media, and public learning portals may be appropriate.
There are no direct program costs to share, use, or distribute the game. However, to enhance the game’s impact, consider budgeting for follow-up support to partners from digital security experts to discuss lessons learned and assist with the technical implementation of best practices illustrated through the game.
Programs may also want to consider a budget for communications and outreach if conducting a broader public campaign around sharing the resource.
Budget will also need to be allocated if interested in translating the game.
No technical expertise is required to share the tool, although an internet connection and smartphone or computer is needed for play.
Digital security expertise is required to conduct follow-on activities as described above.
Limited effort is required to share the game for individual use. However, a program designed to leverage the game as a jumping-off point for further digital security learning and training will require additional support.
The game does not require any login information for use or collect personally identifiable information of players. In a context where players are concerned about their use of the game being known by others, they may consider, where legal, using a VPN to access the game.