Humans have told stories for millennia, from Neanderthal cave paintings dating 64,000 years to the oral traditions of the ancient Greeks. Technology has evolved this innate ability to a more dynamic state in recent years, with videos, GIFs and memes – the elements that keep us glued to our social feeds – joining traditional mediums such as text and illustration. But while stories entertain us, they aren’t just for fun. They’re also about learning, and it’s here that their near-mystical qualities become apparent.

Stories facilitate learning because of the emotional connection we form with them. When you tell a child they must learn to count in order to pass a test, they’ll fail to see its relevance. Who can blame them? But tell them they need to count money so they can buy a puppy – a flicker of a story – and you’ll get a different reaction. That’s because stories put people into a hypnotic, curious state; they make us less critical and more receptive, creating ideal conditions for learning.

Aesop’s Fables (think the Tortoise and the Hare) have been teaching us morality since around 600 BC, while the Panchatantra has done the same in Sanskrit. It’s not just great truths that can be garnered from stories though; they can supercharge the memorability of any subject, including technical fields such as cybersecurity. Psychologist Jerome Bruner says we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it’s wrapped up in a story, and there are several reasons for this.

Stories are universal

Storytelling transcends culture, race, and class. It’s a proven way to engage all kinds of people, despite us absorbing information in different ways. Stories will appeal to you whether you’re a visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic learner – especially those using rich media.

Stories make us care

We forge emotional connections with stories, meaning we care about the outcome. They also trigger the release of oxytocin (dubbed the “cuddle drug” because of its release during skin contact), which puts us in a relaxed and trusting state. This means our guard comes down and we can absorb information easily – something amplified when characters reflect our own emotions and experiences.

Storytelling is respectful of learners

Nothing is duller than sitting in a classroom environment while a hifalutin expert explains that X = Y. Unlike traditional teaching methods, storytelling is respectful of the learner, granting them the freedom to draw conclusions without instruction. In a co-written article for Harvard Business Publishing, professional psychologist and storyteller Lani Peterson says, “Good stories can contain multiple meanings, so they’re surprisingly economical in conveying complex ideas in graspable ways. And stories are more engaging than a dry recitation of data points or a discussion of abstract ideas.”

At Immersive Labs we believe in pairing gamification and self-guided learning with the power of storytelling; it’s a surefire way to engage cyber talent, as proven by our popular narrative-driven Immersive Originals series.

We’ve taken this even further in our new product, the Cyber Crisis Simulator.

Storytelling in the Cyber Crisis Simulator

Physical tabletop exercising was previously the only way to explore your business’s cyber crisis response capability, but this technique is limited: not only are the scenarios detached from real emerging threats, they’re difficult – perhaps impossible – to scale to the needs of larger organizations.

Immersive Labs’ Cyber Crisis Simulator is an online solution that drops defenders into real-time cyber crises. The system challenges teams to make critical decisions when dealing with emerging incidents such as ransomware outbreaks, which are often based on real-world events. These responsive scenarios create rich, realistic storylines that twist and turn based on the choices your people make, transporting learners from their office surroundings to another reality where every decision counts.

In his book Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story, Kendall Haven says stories about professional mistakes and what leaders learned from them are a great avenue for learning because “people identify so closely with stories, imagining how they would have acted in similar circumstances”. This is true of the Cyber Crisis Simulator, whose scenarios are designed to drive your organization’s cyber resilience and prepare it to face the real-world consequences of a cyber incident.

If you’re ready to transform the way your business prepares for cyber crises, book a demo using the button below.


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July 2, 2020




Immersive Labs