Kris Bloom turned the two things he’s most passionate about — cars and programming — into a thriving business.
Kris Bloom has loved drag racing for as long as he can remember.
“I’ve been involved in drag racing since before I was born,” Kris says. “My dad was drag racing from when he was a kid until I was born. He took me to the races when I was a kid. I grew up around it.”
After learning how to code in the Air Force (more on that later), Kris decided to follow his passions. While working days writing corporate code, Kris moonlighted as the founder of an online magazine dedicated to custom cars.
The magazine was a hit, but Kris and his team were in search of an innovative way to promote the magazine. Their idea? Create a video game.
“I started dinking around with it in my spare time,” Kris recalls.
“Originally it was just marketing, but pretty soon the game started taking off. We had just as many people coming to play the game as to read the magazine. It had a life of its own.”
So Kris dove in head first, iterating on a series of games that would eventually evolve into Extreme Velocity 3, his current focus and the world’s most popular video game for drag racing enthusiasts.
Extreme Velocity 3 (EV3) is known for its realism. Players can select and customize their car, then race against the computer or other players. Unlike most other games, Kris and his team designed the game’s physics engine to carefully simulate the feeling of being out on the track — something that can only come from racing experience and in-depth technical know-how.
Kris earned the racing experience first-hand.
“A lot of the guys building these other games aren’t actually racing themselves,” he says, pointing out that he’s won several drag racing trophies for his racing prowess. “I wanted a game that would seem more realistic. I wanted players to be able to feel how the cars handle at full throttle. You only know that if you’re spending your weekends out on the track.”
The technical know-how started, in many ways, back in high school.
“I was sitting in typing class and the teacher was boring me to death,” Kris remembers. “I had a computer sitting in front me, so I started experimenting with it, typing various commands. I found a hole in the network and exploited it. I didn’t mean any harm. I was just doing it because it was funny that it was so wide open.”
The principal didn’t find it funny. Kris was suspended for three days.
After high school, Kris wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. He had always been interested in electronics (diodes and transistors and such), but wasn’t sure what that translated to in terms of a career. With encouragement from his dad, Kris went and spoke with several branches of the military, ultimately deciding that training as an electrician in the Air Force could be interesting.
“I chose the Air Force because they had more intellectual-type jobs,” he says. “But they put me through a bunch of physicals and found out I was color blind. It was something I had always suspected, but it hadn’t been confirmed.”
It was bad news for Kris: “You can’t be an electrician in the Air Force if you’re color blind.”
Kris needed to rethink his future. Scanning down a list of potential fields of study, he was drawn to Communications Computer Systems Operator.
“That sounded interesting,” he says. It was the only formal training in computer programming Kris has ever received.
“A lot of the stuff I was doing wasn’t programming, per se. I worked on the global command control system and was on the team in charge of security on the base I was stationed at.”
It was enough to pique his interest and set Kris on a path that would eventually — in a roundabout way — lead to creating a video game.
While EV3 is free, Kris and his company, KABloom Interactive, make money by allowing users to purchase add-ons, including special equipment upgrades for their cars. In fact, Kris says, while previous versions of the game were fun to play, he had neglected to design a business model that would allow him to create a sustainable company.
Screens from Kris’s drag racing simulator Extreme Velocity 3.
“We realized fairly early on in the release of EV2 that the monetization system wasn’t ever going to be a money maker,” Kris says. “I made a few design flaws that meant it wouldn’t ever be able to be profitable.”
Kris learned from that experience, designing EV3 to work for both for his customers and his business. After all, he reasoned, if he was going to spend the better part of two years developing the game, the least it could do was pay the bills.
It is. In fact, with a sponsorship at Firebird Raceway, the Treasure Valley’s popular drag racing strip, EV3 is paying other people’s bill, too.
“I’ve spent so much time racing, it’s great to be able to support the local track.”
Note: Extreme Velocity 3 is available on Mac, PC, iOS, Android. Learn more at playev3.com.