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.

This is not a game, Cork Workshop!

this is not a game

This is Not a Game!

Is a video game challenge for Irish students. The goal is to use the fun and popularity of video games to raise awareness of Marine issues like overfishing, ocean pollution and ocean acidification. The challenge is being organised by CoderDojo, the U.S. Embassy, and Griffith College.

This session is open to all kids aged 10-18 whether they attend CoderDojo or not. On the day, we will have workshops on games development, discussion on the competition theme and presentations from the gaming industry. The Cork edition will take place at the UCC Insight Centre for Data Analytics.

Register here

Event Details:

Location: UCC Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Western Gateway Building.

Date: 15th of November

Time of session: 11.00am – 2.30pm

Price: Free to attend


·         11:00 am  Registration

·         11:30 am  Introduction to the program 

·         11.40 am  Tom Doyle, NUI Galway: Why our oceans matter

·         12:10 pm  Richard Sneyd, Cybermyth Games: What makes a good game

·         12:40pm   Break for Lunch

·         1:10 pm    Paul Kennedy and Eoghan Dunne, Panabona: Game entrepreneurs and working in a team

·         1:30 pm    CoderDojo Youth Mentors: GameMaker exercise

·         2:30 pm    Event ends

Requirements for the event:

  • Students should bring their own laptop to use.
  • Students should bring a packed lunch.Students under 12 years of age (including 12) have to be supervised by a parent at the event.


Richard Sneyd, Cybermyth Games: What makes a good game

Tom Doyle, NUI Galway, Marine Scientist: Why our Oceans Matter

Follow us on Twitter @thisisnot_agame for updates on the workshop.

Please Note: We would ask that all attendees 13 and under are accompanied by an adult at the event. Students have to bring their own laptops to work with at the session. Please do not book a single adult ticket and attend alone. Adults will not be allowed into the event unless they are supervising a student attending the event.

Last of the This is Not a Game workshops announced!


Following the success of the first this is Not a Game workshop in Dublin, Belfast, Limerick and Derry we are happy to announce that there will be two more in the series of ‘This is Not a Game’ workshops! These workshops will be taking place in Galway and Cork on the 15th of November.

The workshops will include talks and hands-on training by industry leaders and experts aimed at equipping aspiring game makers with the skill and knowledge to start creating their own video games for the competition! All Irish students (10 – 18) interested in learning about video game development are welcome to attend! And  the best thing is that all the workshop is free to attend.

Details of the Workshops are listed below:

City: Date: Location: Register here:
Cork November 15th Insight centre at UCC Register for Cork
Galway November 15th NUI Galway, Bailey Allen Hall Register for Galway

We look forward to seeing you there!

Follow This is Not a Game on Twitter @thisisnot_agame for updates on the upcoming workshops. If you have any questions you can contact us directly via:

Please Note: We would ask that all attendees 13 years and under are accompanied and supervised by an adult at the events. All  students should bring their own laptops to work with at the sessions. Please do not book a single adult ticket and attend alone. Adults will not be allowed into the events unless they are supervising a student attending the events.

Resources to get you started on making your own game:

FREE Scratch Download

FREE Project Anarchy Download

FREE GameMaker Download


This Is Not A Game Ocean Challenge is coming to Limerick!

this is not a game

A special event will take place on Saturday, October 4th from 10:00 am – 2:30 pm in the Millennium Theatre in the Limerick Institute of Technology.

The event is free to attend, but both young people attending and their guardians must register in advance.

Register Here! 

Event Details:

Location: Millennium Theatre, Limerick Institute of Technology.

Date: 4th of October

Time of session: 10.00 am – 2.30 pm

Price: Free to attend


  • 10:00 am  Registration
  • 10:30 am  Introduction to the program 
  • 10.40 am  Dr. Peter Klimley, aka “Dr. Hammerhead”:Why our Oceans Matter
  • 11:25 am   Games Industry Speaker James Daly: CEO of Atom Split Games
  • 12:15 pm   Break for Lunch
  • 1 pm           Diarmaid Keane: Creating a Video Trailer for you Game
  • 1:30 pm    CoderDojo Mentors: GameMaker exercise
  • 2.30 pm    Event finishes
 Important requirements for the event:
  • Students should bring their own laptop to use.
  • Students should bring a packed lunch. Students under 13 years of age will have to be supervised by a parent at the event.


Dr. Peter Klimley

Dr. Klimley’s research interests revolve around the use of telemetric techniques; specializing in the development of behavioural and environmental sensors, computer-decoded telemetry, automated data logging, and archival tags.  He has designed and built multi-sensor ultrasonic transmitters and used them to relate the highly directional migratory movements of hammerhead sharks to local patterns in the earth’s geomagnetic field.  He was involved in the development of the first automated tag-detecting monitors and was the first to deploy them in the marine environment to ascertain the degree of residency of hammerhead sharks at a seamount and their emigration in response to local upwelling.  A major objective of Dr Klimley’s Biotelemetry Laboratory is to disseminate innovative remote sensing technology among scientists on an international level.

James Daly

James is CEO of Atom Split Games. Games Programmer, Designer and scribbler of many notes, James loves to create fun experiences for people to enjoy. James is also a part-time Lecturer on LIT’s Games Development Course.”


About This is Not a Game

“This is Not A Game Ocean Challenge” is a call out to students to help spread the word about threats to our Ocean by learning code and making games. The goal is to help to use the popularity of games to raise awareness of issues like over fishing, the problem of ocean garbage and human impact on life in the sea. This competition is being launched by Coder Dojo, the U.S. Embassy in Dublin and the U.S. Consulate in Belfast, as well as several educational partners and is open to students in Ireland (10 – 18 years old).

You can sign up as an individual or as part of a team. Then you can attend a local launch workshop or get help from your local Coder Dojo and mentors to create your game. The last step is to submit your game to a panel of judges that will include professional game makers.  Finalists will be invited to present their finished games at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in Dublin in January.

You don’t need to know how to code to start.   A good team includes more than just programmers.   Storytellers, writers, artists and musicians all help create great interactive games. So anyone who cares about the fate of the sea can help.