Enter the SpyQuest Short Story Competition

SpyQuest logo

At some stage in their lives, everyone has fancied becoming a spy. Don’t tell me you didn’t, because you’d be lying. In fact, even as adults there are probably those among us who think that if MI5 came calling, we’d be an asset to Queen and country.

With SpyQuest, an award-winning online game, your pupils can get that little bit closer to their dreams of espionage whilst acquiring a bucketload of cross-curricular skills and working as a team to solve ciphers, crack codes and complete missions. The game can be tailored to suit your learning goals and has been used to great effect in schools across the country.

Cartoon image of a boy playing the polybius machine
SpyQuest is the creation of ex-policeman David Goutcher, Managing Director of Polybius Games, who spent 17 years in covert operations. During this time, David heard an urban legend about some strange goings on in the amusement arcades of Oregon in the 1980s. The legend centres around the Polybius arcade machine, which induced mysterious and unpleasant side effects in many of the people who played it. The game was said to be responsible for amnesia, insomnia, stress and nightmares. Furthermore, rumours circulated that the machine was periodically visited by shadowy men in suits who would empty it of data sheets. Word was the spooks were using the game to recruit child spies, and the machines disappeared after only a short time in the arcades.

SpyQuest character Agent Gail Torrez
Inspired by the legend, David created SpyQuest, a game which, in his words, is: 'as close to a real recruitment challenge for the intelligence agencies as I have seen. It incorporates all the attributes that we used when designing training programmes and even has elements of psychometric testing (deciphering codes) built in as fun activities.'

The game is free, and there is also a paid offer where the team at Polybius games can create a tailored storyline to help meet your particular learning aims. Schools have embraced this, seeing it as a fantastic opportunity for (amongst other things) transition projects. Knightswood Secondary School in Glasgow set up a "mission" for visiting P7 pupils to complete with the help of S1 buddies, who helped them crack numerical codes, work out puzzles, listen to verbal information and link clues. The "mission’s" ultimate aim was for the P7 pupils to find their way around their new school and become confident with its layout, as well as meet their new peers and work together with them. The S1 buddies were also given a fantastic opportunity to build relationships and be responsible for the learning of the younger pupils. You can learn more about the game and how to join by clicking here.

SpyQuest character Agent Jones
SpyQuest short story competition

SpyQuest is a narrative-based game, and the generic storylines are full of rich and fascinating hooks. Polybius Games has agreed a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution that allows them to use artefacts from the museum in the storylines, and the narrative is often based around areas of historical, geographical or cultural fascination, such as the Mayans, Robin Hood, Arca Pearl in Dubai, stagecoach robberies in Arizona and our own Mary Queen of Scots. 

Polybius are inviting children in P5-7 to write a spy-themed story of 750 words or fewer, with some fantastic prizes to be won. The winners will receive a SpyQuest game based on the plot of their story, and Polybius staff will visit the winner’s school to host a live SpyQuest event. The deadline for entries is 5pm, Friday 27 November. You can find out all the competition information in this document. Thereafter, all you need is your invisibility cloak and your wits about you. So what are you waiting for? Get those pens the ready and unleash your inner Bond.

Check out our other blogs about technology in the classroom.