Schoolboy entrepreneur makes his mark on world of gaming
At 13, Jordan Casey has three games on iTunes – and there’s more to come from the Waterford pupil
Jordan Casey: “With all games I offered them free for a few weeks to build up hype and then I started charging”
The first-year pupil at De La Salle College is also a seasoned speaker on the publicity circuit, having addressed numerous events including the prestigious TEDx conference in New Delhi, the Cannes Lions festival, the Bett education conference in London and the European Pirate Summit in Cologne.
Later this month, he will be speaking at the Festival of Games and The Next Web conference, both of which are taking place in Amsterdam.
Casey is part of a new wave of entrepreneurs, which thanks to internet and mobile technology, all have their own companies. And they’re only 13.
These kids are part of a generation raised with touchscreens and social media, and they’re cranking out profitable apps for new devices and platforms as fast as mobile marketplaces allow them. In the 1970s and 1980s, kids formed bands in their spare time – now they are forming companies.
Casey taught himself programming when he was just nine, purchasing a book about computer languages. By age 10, he was programming in Java, HTML and CSS and his website had received more than 50,000 hits.
“I became interested in coding and programming when I was nine. I used to play a game called Club Penguin , and saw other kids were building websites about it, so I decided to do one too.
“My family initially thought I was just playing games – they didn’t realise I was developing them. They only realised when it came out I was Europe’s youngest iOS developer.”
“It was based on Space Invaders as I’m a massive fan of that game.”
He followed that up with Alien Ball vs Humans 2 and a puzzle-adventure game called Greenboy Touch .
“The first two games I developed cost 89 cent each to download. I am using a fremium payment system on my Greenboy Touch game. You get the first part of the game free and you pay for the rest.
“With all games I offered them free for a few weeks to build up hype and then I started charging.”
But it’s not all easy, he says.
“It’s really hard to get into the app store. If Apple find the smallest glitch or bug they won’t accept the game, which happened with the second game I developed. I managed to fix it though.”
Casey also created a game to mark National Children’s Day in Brazil. The game, called Save the Day , was made in collaboration with the South American ad agency Fabrica.
“Fabrica approached me at the Cannes Lions festival. I was the youngest app developer in Europe at the time, and they asked could I make a game for them. It was played more than 15,000 times on their website.”
After meeting an Irish gaming entrepreneur at the Dublin Web Summit last year, he discovered how big the gaming industry was, and decided to create a limited company.
Last December, Casey Games became a private limited company, but because of his age Casey could not become a director by law, so he made his parents directors.
But its not all business and coding on his young shoulders, there’s a philanthropic side to him too. The kid coder gives some of his proceeds to charity, with 10 per cent of his Greenboy game profits going to a cancer respite centre in Waterford called the Solas Centre.
Casey is currently working on a new game called My Little World , which he hopes to release across iPhone, Android, Windows 8 and Mac platforms. The game is about a tiny creature named JC who lives in a back garden and wants to see the real world.
By July, he is aiming to get an e-book version of the My Little World story in the iBooks store, which will be free as he wants to encourage kids to read the story as well as playing the game.
The teenager was recently named the winner in the junior category of the Waterford Student Enterprise Awards and will go on to compete at the National Student Enterprise Awards on April 17th. In the meantime, he is keen to organise a one-off coding event in the Netherlands.
“I sort of teach and help out at Coder Dojo. I helped out recently at an event in London and an also helping to organise a one-off CoderDojo event in Amsterdam.”
He also recently hired his first member of staff, Aidan Blackett, as lead art director at the company. While he realised he could programme well, he felt he still needed design expertise.
Blackett is the graphic designer of Casey’s latest game, Food World . The game is a virtual world game similar to Club Penguin , where gamers play as food and live in a giant kitchen.
As for the future, his friends have great aspirations for him: “They think I will be famous.”