About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.


A key feature of the platform is an embedded diagnostic assessment of learners’ motivation and core skills, based on their gaming profile and preferences. Learners are given a series of motivational ‘challenges’ and self-discovery ‘quests’ that link back to the diagnostic assessment. Challenges and quests are focused on 21st century skills, such as decision-making, creativity, goal-setting and introspection, and help users to understand what they are good at and to identify potential future career options.

Other key aspects of the platform include:

  • A community forum with a 700-strong community of gamers
  • A series of streams on Twitch, the live streaming service
  • Talks from senior industry professionals in technology, the creative industries and Armed Forces, who are also gamers and act as professional role models
  • A database of jobs and education opportunities
  • A series of ‘Expansion Packs’, that offer employability support featuring personalised career advice supported by a team of professional careers advisors

Evaluation findings and lessons learned

The evaluation identified a number of positive outcomes for learners, who reported that the blend of semi-automated and semi-live experiences increased their skills, confidence and motivation to seek employment, further study or progress within their careers. Learners also found the sense of gaming camaraderie within the community forum and learning within a community of shared gaming interest to be important in supporting confidence and encouraging their skills development. Learners also responded positively to the focus on individual learning throughout the challenges and game quests, and found the diagnostic assessments useful in understanding the types of skills they had developed and their value for the labour market.

The CareerTech Challenge has given Game Academy the opportunity to gain further experience of conducting evaluations and they will continue to measure social and emotional outcomes. In particular, they now know that it is possible to measure softer outcomes (such as motivation or confidence), the benefits of doing so and how to do it. They can see the benefits of an iterative and structured ‘test and learn’ approach, which enables developers to understand aspects of a programme or product that need improving. The experience has also shown Game Academy the importance of investing time in evaluation in order to generate robust and useful results.

Game Academy intends to embed various aspects of the evaluation process into their work. They have continued to use (simplified versions of) the research tools, in order to generate further insights as the programme develops. They emphasise the importance of consistency, and that continuing to use the same tools will enable robust future comparisons. The evaluation has enabled Game Academy to understand the factors that influence learner outcomes, and this knowledge will continue to be used in course development. They will also continue to use their theory of change, and are intending to examine the inputs identified in it, to complement the current focus on outputs and outcomes. Finally, Game Academy is already referring to the evaluation and findings when they talk to investors, partners and stakeholders; they consider this to be a real benefit, and will continue to use it in the future.

'Now we use it when we speak to investors, to partners … they are surprised how clear we are on what we measure, how we measure it etc.'

Game Academy project lead
An illustration of person playing a video game and simultaneously showing someone something on a phone screen

Tom's learner journey

Tom is in his 40s and lives in Yorkshire. He works as an administrative assistant but was furloughed at the beginning of the first lockdown. Tom enjoys playing a variety of games, such as Minecraft, Open World, Exploration and story-based games. Tom was studying for a Level 2 qualification at college and is looking for another job. Although he has talked to careers advisors at college, he has not found them to be particularly helpful.

He found Game Academy on Google as he was searching for some materials for his studies. After joining the programme platform, he found that the material was easy to understand and use, with ‘no technical terms’ and ‘exactly what I need after doing 3 to 5 hours of college work.’ Tom has found the programme to be very enjoyable, and considers the main value of it to be the information on different jobs that he could apply for, and realising that there was a demand for his expertise. He has also valued the lines of support and network, whose users share his love of gaming. It opened opportunities to talk about work, his feelings and future goals with other gamers in the same situation.

After participating in the programme, Tom has enrolled on a number of courses. It has also given him the confidence to search for a wider range of jobs, based on the conversations with other learners on the platform.

“After joining Game Academy, I enrolled into learning. I've taken a few courses on LinkedIn Learning. Also I learned how to edit videos. Proper transition between cuts and effects. Learning self-taught, YouTube, online courses. After [participating]… I obtained my BTEC Level 2 in Business Administration. I also liked to learn how to utilise gaming to build upon the drivers and skills that the quests mention.”

Game Academy: Using evaluation to evidence the transferable skills of gamers

Download the full evaluation case study

CTC GA Cover.png