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Playing Games at - Work Part 2 - AWS Cloud Quest

April 26, 2024
June 19, 2023
min read

This is second part of a series about Gamified Learning, read the first part here.

Last week I attended the AWS Summit London, along with some of my D55 colleagues, and among attending various talks, and even taking part in (and winning!) another AWS GameDay challenge, I spent some time manning the AWS Community Builders stand (For those that aren’t aware of the Community Builder program, I’ll cover that in a separate article). Even though I was only there for a short time I had many great conversations about how to leverage both the CB program and Gamified Learning to grow knowledge and skills inside of the cloud. It was fascinating to hear about the different approaches, opinions and even misapprehensions people had about Cloud Engineering, and to offer my own perspective and insights.

One such conversation was with a fellow developer who worked both directly in tech and as a tutor, halfway across the world in Brazil, and was looking for a way to introduce some of his students to AWS’ cloud services in a simple and understandable way. My thoughts straight away moved to AWS Cloud Quest.

Cloud Quest is a fun, simple game-based learning platform, ideal for getting experience within the AWS platform at using a huge amount of the services available. Like many RPGs you begin by designing and styling your character and advance by completing ‘quests’ set throughout a digital city by its NPC inhabitants. These can vary from setting up a simple EC2 instance, to performing ML tasks inside of AWS SageMaker, to securing IAM policies for DynamoDB access, and everything in between. Once you’ve been given an overview of the task, a safe and cost-free lab account is spun up for you on the AWS Management Console, and you follow the steps laid out in the quest to complete the task. At the end of each Quest is a ‘DIY’ Challenge, where you are asked to complete a step with only minimal direction, giving you a chance to demonstrate the skills you’ve learned beforehand.

Each quest advances you along a chosen path, in disciplines such as ‘Cloud Practitioner’, ‘Machine Learning’, ‘Serverless Developer’ and more. There are 6 tracks in total and completing each rewards you with a Credly badge you can display proudly on your social media, personal webpages, email and more. As you advance you also collect gems that can be used to upgrade your avatar, along with the ability to personalise the city, your transportation, and even collect wild and wonderful pets!

Cloud Quest is a fantastic way to get early immersion into the AWS ecosystem; to get hands on experience working with the Management Console in a safe, guard railed way that won’t incur costs while you learn, or if you make mistakes. Each quest simulates a standalone problem that you may encounter in the real world, and it’s also a brilliant way to discover new approaches and best practices for approaching these issues. As an example, for the Machine Learning track some of the tasks involve using Sagemaker Studio, which I’d had no experience with previously; this means that besides being a great place for anyone starting their AWS Cloud journey, those of us who already have some experience can benefit from completing the many varied and interesting quests.

Alongside the main tracks are smaller mini games and quizzes; shooting down the ever present floating drones dotted throughout the city will present you with questions very similar in structure and tone to those you would find on AWS Certification Exam, giving you the chance to practice, and if answered correctly you gain Service Cards which are used to solve yet another minigame of architecting solutions to specific problems. It’s these minigames which bring me back to CQ even after completing all the currently available paths inside the game.

For those who are studying towards an AWS Certification, Cloud Quest can be a great way to accelerate your learning and provide context to the scenarios being asked in the practice exams. I used it in conjunction with both the Cloud Practitioner and Developer Association Exams and found it a great way to break up dryer, more traditional learning methods.

Fancy a go? The Cloud Practitioner track is free to play, while the others require an AWS Skills Builder subscription, so have a try and see for yourself! Even better, AWS is currently providing a voucher for 25% off the cost of the CCP exam when you complete the Cloud Quest Cloud Practitioner track. What more could you ask for!

In the final part of this series I’ll talk about some non AWS based games and resources that you can use in learning about cloud and coding in general and talk about how making your own games can be a great way to enhance your programming skills and abilities.

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