How making games can help solve big problems by James Daly of Atom Split Games

Hi I’m James Daly, CEO of Atom Split Games. I attending coder dojo limerick and gave a quick talk about how games can help solve big problems and how you can start making games.

How Games solve big problems

Khan Academy

Khan academy uses achievements and rewards to encourage you to learn and to help you track your progress on becoming a master mathematician, it is an amazing example of how you can use rewards and achievement to teach.



One of the core building blocks of life are complex protein strands, coming up with new protein strands can help cure major diseases. Foldit is a game that turns the creation of these protein strands into a game of biological origami. One of their most recent challenges involves creating a peptide blocker for the Ebola virus.



BoxCar2D is a really cool way to see how a genetic algorithm works, it keeps building cars and makes random changes to them to try and beat a track. It is a good example of how we can show a process like evolution in the form of car racing. Plus it’s really fun to watch.


Making Games

When starting to create a it can be difficult to know where to start, but with all things the most important thing is to just start.

Break things down

To make things easier its really helpful to break down a game into it’s smaller parts, especially on big games. If you are having trouble with a particular problem, break it down to it’s smaller parts then solve those.

Design Document

This is any document that details your game. If you are working with other people and you have a detailed document that says what is in your game then there will be no confusion when you start making it. This document can take any shape or form (it can even be all pictures) but the more information you can get in in about your game the easier it will be to get your game finished.


Everything is in the details. If someone is making the art for your game, what sizes should the images be, what are they going to call the image? For your programmer, what folders is he going to keep everything in? The more detail you go into when you are talking about making your game the easier things will be.


Test your game as often as possible, if your programmer can send a sample out to the team as often as possible you will be able to see the progress, it’s also really great to see that you are making progress!

Get Feedback

Ask people what they think of your game, sometimes people will see something that you have missed or that they find a particular part very hard but you have become a pro at the game from testing it for so long.


One of the main tools I recommend is Trello. This tool helps you to track tasks to be done, this can be introduced at any stage in the project and is helpful if you have people in your team that are working in a different place than you. It also helps to give you a sense of accomplishment for work completed.

Image editing

Gimp is a free image editor that is quite powerful. is another free tool for windows that is a lot easier to learn than Gimp.


Unity has a free version, it is mostly for 3D games but can do 2D games quite well. Can have a steep learning curve to pick up.

Corona has a free version, there is an in game editor that lets you build games through a drag and drop interface and scritping for more complex functionality.

Gamemaker has a really easy to use drag and drop interface to build out a game and scripting for more complex programming.

These are all free to download and have tutorials on youtube so check them out and see what you like best.

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