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Student entrepreneur runs company to destigmatize video games

| Friday, December 3, 2021

Notre Dame senior Thomas Daly has used his company to bring video games out of basements and living rooms and into a surprising new location: public libraries.

Daly serves as CEO of Innovation Gaming, which works to destigmatize video games and use the games to teach kids from kindergarten to 12th grade creative skills as well as technical lessons in physics, engineering and statistics while having fun.

To date, Innovation Gaming has brought in more than $33,000 in revenue and is set to bring in $8,200 from now to February.

Daly, a finance and Chinese double major, first bought the rights to the idea over the 10-week winter term last year when the business was called Minecraft Mania. As Daly began to run the business his own way, he explored a name change, and in the summer of 2021, the business was named Innovation Gaming. He said the name was chosen to align more closely with their mission statement.

Courtesy of Thomas Daly
Innovation Gaming uses popular video games, such as Minecraft, to teach kids, teens and adults various STEM subjects. The photo above shows an example of an Innovation Gaming video game session.

“It’s, you know, pretty easy to say as the name implies, we’re innovating games and trying to make them more dynamic and different,” Daly said.

In addition, Daly said the new name gave the company better leverage to offer sessions in games other than Minecraft. His team is currently creating learning sessions on coding utilizing the game Roblox.

Although Daly was not an avid video gamer in his youth, he said he “knows enough to pitch the ideas.” He also has enjoyed teaching technical subjects through the games and advocating for alternative modes of learning — specifically for individuals with a passion for video games.

“It’s a great way that I’ve seen that some kids that maybe aren’t the most athletically gifted or academically [gifted], whatever it may be, they’re able to find each other and still relate to other people in other areas,” Daly said.

Currently, Innovation Gaming primarily operates out of Long Island, New York. Daly has contracted with 45 libraries in the region and run 131 sessions. However, he is looking to expand into other regions and recently hosted two sessions in Massachusetts, eight in Connecticut and 20 in the state of New York.

Daly explained that the current market Innovation Gaming operates out of is libraries, but he is looking to expand into other markets. He said he has had principals reach out to him about creating sessions for after-school programs and also hopes to start up in-person sessions with local hosts.

One market Daly is particularly excited to enter is religious education.

“If you can incorporate the game where we’re gonna learn about the ten commandments, then we’re gonna build them and you have to type out what each one is — it’s just a way to reinforce it,” Daly said.

While being a full-time student, Daly said he has to “keep the finger on the pulse” when it comes to overseeing Innovation Gaming. He described the balance as stressful at times but ultimately rewarding.

“It’s not a short-term win type situation,” he said. “It’s a month-by-month look at where we’ve gone over the past three months type, which has definitely helped change my framing.”

Currently, Innovation Gaming employs seven college-aged hosts who lead the individual sessions over Zoom and three salespeople who contract with libraries. Daly said hosts are paid $20 an hour and salespeople are paid on commission.

Part of Daly’s personal mission is to help younger students at Notre Dame through mentorship and opportunities — similar to how he felt welcomed and supported by juniors and seniors when he was a first-year.

“The point is to give [students] a chance to be an entrepreneur and actually go build their own things,” Daly said.

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a junior pursuing a major in history with minors in digital marketing and journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as the Notre Dame News Editor.

Contact Alysa