Improve Your Networking Skills with the CCNA Aspire Game

Posted on June 27, 2012 by Sean Wilkins in Networking with 0 Comments

Overview

If you’re just beginning your networking career, you have a steep hill to climb. There are so many different aspects of networking that attempting to learn it all at once can be a daunting task. To try to make this progression a little easier, Cisco has developed a number of games that are geared towards those just getting into the networking arena and wanting to learn the different topics that are part of the duties of a network engineer.

The game covered in this article is Cisco Aspire CCNA Edition. This game is filled with tasks that encompass more than 80% of the material covered on the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam. This article covers how the game is structured and how you can use it to improve your skills as you begin your journey of becoming an entry level network engineer.

Cisco Aspire CCNA Edition

First, let’s take a look at how you can gain access to the Cisco Aspire game. You can access the game simply by clicking here or you can download the game here.

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The Cisco Aspire CCNA Edition game is organized into a format that should be familiar to consultants of any type. A contract is given to you as the network engineer with a number of tasks that need to be completed. If the tasks are completed correctly and in a timely manner, then the player will gain through a number of game metrics including business sense, configuration (experience), and troubleshooting (experience) among others. It is through the completion of these contracts that the player will use their networking skills. This game is intended to build upon the knowledge of the player and is not intended to be a replacement for other classroom or self-study.

Introductory Game Walkthrough

Once the game is installed and run, the initial introductory screen is displayed; this is shown in Figure 1.

Cisco Introductory Screen

Figure 1 – Introductory Screen

The first time the game is run, the player must set up a new user profile. This is done by clicking on the Add/Import User image. Walk through the user creation screens by selecting an avatar, username, password and location; the screen to do this is shown in Figure 2. Once this configuration information is entered, select the Done button.

Cisco Aspire User Creation Screen

Figure 2 – User Creation Screen

The game will then bring up a dialog asking the player for permission to collect information about game play. This is not a requirement of play so select the appropriate option; this screen is shown in Figure 3.

Data Collection Screen

Figure 3 – Data Collection Screen

Once this has been completed, the user creation process will continue and if successful, the message shown in Figure 4 will be displayed.

Successful User Creation Screen

Figure 4 – Successful User Creation Screen

Once the user has been created successfully, it is time to select the user to play with; since in this case only a single user was created, select this user, enter the password, and select the login button. The login screen is shown in Figure 5.

Login Screen

Figure 5 – Login Screen

This will bring the player to the main menu as shown in Figure 6.  On this menu, the player can perform a number of different game tasks; for the purpose of this article, select the New Game button.

Main Menu

Figure 6 – Main Menu

This will bring the player to a launch screen; simply select the Start Game button as shown in figure 7.

Launch Screen

Figure 7 – Launch Screen

This will then start the game with the player hanging out in their own office; from here the game has begun. As shown in Figure 8, the left pane of the game play window includes a number of buttons for use within the game. To start, the phone will ring. Answer the phone and find out who is calling; this screen is shown in Figure 8.

Initial Call Screen

Figure 8 – Initial Call Screen

The person on the other side of the phone will give the player information about a program offered by Cisco partners. Walk through the process of speaking with him. This process is shown in Figures 9 and 10.

Introductory Conversation 1

Figure 9 – Introductory Conversation 1

Introductory Conversation 2

Figure 10 – Introductory Conversation 2

The friend will tell the user to leave the house and go to the Cisco Gold Partner office; this is done via the screen shown in Figure 11. This interface looks similar to a Sims screen. Select the Cisco Gold Partner office.

Navigation Screen

Figure 11 – Navigation Screen

Once the player gets to the Cisco Gold Partner office, speak with the partner about a new program they are offering. Walk through the process of speaking with the partner; this process is shown in Figures 12 through 14.

Cisco Gold Partner Conversation 1

Figure 12 – Cisco Gold Partner Conversation 1

Cisco Gold Partner Conversation 2

Figure 13 – Cisco Gold Partner Conversation 2

Cisco Gold Partner Conversation 3

Figure 14 – Cisco Gold Partner Conversation 3

At the end of the conversation, the partner will tell the player to go to their lab; this location is shown in Figure 15.

Navigation Screen - Cisco Partner Network Lab

Figure 15 – Navigation Screen – Cisco Partner Network Lab

Once the network lab is entered, an employee will ask if the player is ready to start their internship. Select the Accept button; this is shown in Figure 16.

Start the Internship Screen

Figure 16 – Start the Internship Screen

This is where the contracts part of the game will begin. The employee (or mentor) will talk to the player about a number of issues that need to be resolved in the office. Walk through the screens and the different tasks that need to be completed will be shown; this is shown in figures 17 and 18.

Initial Contract Screen 1

Figure 17 – Initial Contract Screen 1

Initial Contract Screen 2

Figure 18 – Initial Contract Screen 2

As can be seen from Figure 19, each PC that is shown in the figure can be powered on and off as well as configured to the specifications discussed in the initial instructions. For a little brevity, this article will not show every possible screen possibility.

PC Configuration Screen

Figure 19 – PC Configuration Screen

Once all of the tasks are complete, click on the employee on the left pane; if everything was completed successfully, the screen shown in Figure 20 will be displayed.

Successful Completion  Screen

Figure 20 – Successful Completion  Screen

Once Ok is selected, the Contract Summary page will be displayed; an example of this is shown in Figure 21.

Contract Summary

Figure 21 – Contract Summary

This screen will show the different points and scores that have been achieved with the completion of the task. The game will continue in this manner to walk the player through a number of different contracts that can be completed to strengthen the player’s understanding of the base concepts.

One important note is that the more advanced levels of Cisco’s Aspire CCNA Edition are not free; it will take 1000 tokens to complete all of the available contracts in the game ($50).

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Summary

The entry into the network engineering field is more natural for some than others, and everyone learns in different ways. Since the current generation of potential network engineers grew up with gaming as part of their lives, it is only natural that a game be used to help solidify the different concepts required to become a network engineer. Hopefully the content of this article has introduced the reader to this potential learning option, and provides enough of a short overview of game play to interest them in at least trying it out.

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