Alumni presents about business success at Bellevue West


Kelli Smith

Tom Kudirka speaks to DECA and FBLA students about business practices and his experiences.

Melissa Irish, Editor-in-Chief

“Medal of Honor” is a fairly well-known title in the video game industry–one of the most successful series to date. What’s not as well-known is that one of its creators graduated from Bellevue West, and recently returned to tell to his fellow Thunderbirds about success and business.

District Partnerships Facilitator Garrett Sims began to develop an alumni database a couple months ago, and is using the information to arrange opportunities for alumni from Bellevue Public Schools to return and speak to current students.  Bellevue West alumnus Tom Kudirka was the first to do so.

“We wanted to start with Tom because he’s had a very interesting history and he’s worked with Steven Spielberg amongst many other famous people and has one of the best selling computer games of all time so I thought, what better way to get a message to business students than one of their own,” Sims said.

Kudirka’s path to success began when he started his own company, 2015 Inc, 16 years after graduating from Bellevue West.

“I caught the entrepreneurial bug when I met with this guy who started putting together these PCs and of course that grew to be Dell and all these other companies,” Kudirka said.  “I always had this desire to do my own business.  I had in my head that I was going to be a millionaire.”

As he said in his presentation, he believes failure is essential for success, a sentiment reflecting in how he managed to work with famous filmmaker Steven Spielberg.

“I got cut from a project and I mentioned it to id Software,” Kudirka said.  “They do ‘DOOM,’ they do ‘Quake,’ they do ‘Wolfenstein,’ they do ‘Spear of Destiny,’ they do all their own games.  They said, ‘Gee, Tom just got out of a project.  He’s one of the top five developers in the world.  The timing’s perfect, you really need to call Tom, but I’m not going to warn Tom.  Here’s his phone number.’  When I hung up with Spielberg, I called down to id Software and they must have had me on speakerphone because they were all laughing like crazy.”

Their new project would be “Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.”  Kudirka, Spielberg, and a veteran named Captain Dale Dye worked together to ensure that the game’s battles would all be authentic.  By the time their project was complete, Kudirka was confident that it would be a success.

“We knew that it was something hot, we knew it was good,” Kudirka said.  “To the extent of how hot it was going to be, we had no idea.  Electronic Arts, when they rolled out Medal of Honor, it was the largest roll-out in Electronic Arts history.  So even they knew we made something hot, so they made 700,000 copies and had so many pre-orders that we were already going to make royalties.”

However, money was not what Kudirka wanted most from that venture.

“You can’t go into it money-motivated,” Kudirka said.  “If you go into it looking to make a buck, you will fail.  It’s not about money, it’s about success.”

That was only one of the many bits of advice he offered to the DECA and FBLA students when he gave his presentation on Oct. 23.  Junior Paige Perrone said she enjoyed it.

“I really liked it because he added facts and humored us,” Perrone said.  “He made his speech very interesting about something you might find boring.  He inspired me because he was such an average student in school and then he became such a successful businessman.”

Sims plans on having more alumni come back, and Kudirka has his own plans for the future as well.  He is currently working on a mixed reality golf simulator, an attempt to unite two different worlds. “vGolf” is yet another reflection of this particular pointer of his:

Do it,” Kudirka said.  “It’s that simple, just absolutely do it.  There’s nothing more rewarding than to do your own thing your own way.”