CareerTech Challenge is an ambitious innovation programme led by Nesta and Nesta Challenges in partnership with the Department for Education.
The programme focuses on stimulating new solutions for precarious workers, such as workers in low-paid, insecure work that's susceptible to change, to upskill and retrain online. It also focuses on improving access to accurate data-driven information, advice and guidance to help these people find work. In this project update, we hear from Game Academy Bootcamp one of the innovations shortlisted for the £5.75 million CareerTech Challenge.
Every other person in the UK plays video games. World of Warcraft, Civilization, League of Legends, Final Fantasy, many of the most popular games demand powerful soft skills – complex problem solving, online communication, resource management and leadership.
Game Academy is a new tech service that enables players to pinpoint and understand the skills that they have developed by playing games and transfer them to the world of work and new learning opportunities.
There are skills shortages in the economy. Gamers deploy these skills day in, day out, hour after hour, but their transferability and relevance is hidden behind the console. Game Academy gives gamers the power to develop and adapt their careers, providing them with the keys to unlock that hidden talent.
Our platform includes an analytics tool, marketplace and multimedia, multi-channel programme of soft skills development. The analytics tool is supported by a new, unique dataset that maps game choices and habits to careers. The online programme is a unique way to learn by playing games, featuring in-game and real life challenges, collaborative learning and popular platforms such as Steam, Twitch, Discord and YouTube.
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Since the start of the Nesta project we have created and launched a website, developed our analytics tool and hosted two learning bootcamps, each featuring over 15 hours of learning. Bootcamps included streams on gaming and skills on the Twitch platform, video interviews with super-talented gamers discussing the skills gained from game play and the way these skills have support their everyday lives.
Over 100 learners have taken part in Game Academy’s work and every third learner has completed the Bootcamp programme. Participants report improved self-confidence, an understanding of soft skills to include in their CV and useful clarity on career direction. Game Academy has developed a vibrant community of 250+ gamers on the messaging platform Discord, as well as gamers interested in using and applying their game skills to their employment. Several graduates have reported progress in their careers.
COVID-19 has made our project even more valuable and relevant. As millions have tried new digital activities, the number of video game players has soared. The dramatic rise of remote working has rendered the native remote, digital and immersive skills of gamers even more relevant to the labour market.
However, COVID-19 has had an impact on our plans to engage the business and gaming community, reduced the scale of participation and slowed our ability to convert early interest in our work from the business community into practical association. We've also been unable to run offline events. During this time, we have found intermediaries to companies, work programmes and educational providers unable to provide the usual level of support and partnership. All of this has had an impact on the scale and initial reach of our work. If you are able to help us expand, please get in touch!
We have overcome these barriers by progressing engagement directly through private networks of gamers and using social media. For now, we are engaging companies on a basis of co-design and collaboration, rather than as prospective end users of Game Academy as a recruitment partner or funnel. We have also adjusted our commercial model, making our main service free to all users and providing additional features and personalised support for a small fee.
Over the next six months, we plan to convert our service into a full-service platform. We plan to scale up engagement using sharper, more targeted use of social media, video content and growing the nature and sophistication of the management of our community. We are developing our relationship with games companies, putting in place a first pilot looking towards integration of Game Academy and its technology with the games environment.