Creating Command School: Training Like Ender’s Game

By Zvi Guterman - January 10, 2019
4 min read

If you’ve never read the sci-fi classic “Ender’s Game,” you’re missing out on a great story. But if you have, you probably remember two things about it: First, the big reveal at the end. Second, the advanced training the kids went through was incredible. Between the battle room matches and the command school tactical simulations, the technology was so sophisticated that it helped the students save the world.

While your organization may not be tasked with repelling alien invaders, you can create virtual training labs to help learners get acquainted with the ins and outs of your software so they can perform at the top of their game when it matters most. How can you model your training programs after the International Fleet (I.F.) in a way that brings the learners true proficiency? Here are some of our tips – if you choose to accept this mission…

1. Gamify with real-world situations

Over the last 30 years, I’ve met hundreds of security professionals who have all been motivated by breaking into a system and building stronger frameworks to learn what works best to ward off possible threats. As such, these highly-sophisticated trainings should be hands-on and virtual, similar to the battle simulations in “Ender’s Game.”
Your course should be conducted in conditions as close as possible to real-world situations, but without the fear of making costly mistakes. Everything can function perfectly, with conditions optimized in a virtual environment to bring about the highest quality learning experience. You should also be able to easily configure it to meet the needs of different courses and classes without having to rely on IT support for every detail.

2. Configure the user experience to ensure success

In the battle simulations, Ender could expand his view to see across a whole planetary system for an overall sense of the battle, or he could zoom in and look at one specific engagement with a few ships. You should be able to determine exactly what each of your learners sees and controls, while giving them access to as much supplemental information as possible to foster success.

Additionally, instructors should engage directly with the students through a user-friendly interface, chat capability and more for a true collaborative experience. Ender and the other students were closely supervised by their instructors. Even when the danger felt real, they could step in and interfere at any time. (They generally didn’t, but that’s where you can improve on the book)

3. Allow employees to access the trainings – anywhere and everywhere

When Ender and the other students conducted mock battles (and the later battles that turned out to be real), the I.F. could recreate any scenario they wanted at a moment’s notice with sophisticated controls and simulations. Your virtual training environment can also be set up with just a few clicks, using preconfigured templates you can customize for your own software, and expand to suit as many learners as you need.

4. Provide test-drives for instructors – and trainees 

In the battle room Ender used to schedule contests between his students and learning courses, he always knew where he had to be on the station. Your virtual lab should include simple scheduling functionality, customizable invitations and flexible communication options.

This ease of us for instructors should also be incorporated into test-drives. When Ender started practicing in the battle room in his spare time, he channeled his creativity and leadership abilities while increasing his understanding of the environmental constraints. You can allow your product to sell itself with full-featured test drive capabilities that allow potential buyers to see everything your products can do without having to incorporate new applications or hardware into their IT infrastructure.


Even though lives may not be at stake, software training is key to your success as an organization. But the hands-on experience is one of the most effective ways to learn and teach. It’s why some of the top security conferences use Capture the Flag-type games for training.

By utilizing a full-featured virtual training environment from CloudShare, you can improve your learning and development environment for better sales and internal proficiency.

Interested in learning how you can advance your trainings? Read my 2019 predictions for insights on how you can retain talent and manage a multi-generational workplace.