“Everything I’ve done that I feel good about, I traded for something better,” says video-game creator Jason Jones, who, in 2010, turned his 500-person company’s focus away from multibillion-dollar series Halo (severing ties with Microsoft) to create a new digital world. Destiny debuted last fall, generating sales of more than $325 million in its first five days and becoming the most successful new video-game launch of all time. Like Halo, it is a first-person shooter game, but it features a role-playing element that encourages teamwork among gamers who band together as hunters, warlocks, or soldiers in a mythic universe to battle Earth-destroying aliens. Last fall, Destiny sales made more than $325 million in its first five days, and it became the most successful new video-game launch of all time.
Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?
Reading. Books contain the most ridiculous ideas. I just finished Winston Churchill’s The World Crisis, which is his memoir of World War I and he’s a fantastic writer. I just finished James S.A. Corey’s Cibola Burn. The innovation and the sheer vastness of the written word is tremendously inspiring to me.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
I roll into work as fast as I can. I like to start my day alone and at work, so I can get ready for the day. I should make something up like I do yoga or meditate.
What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?
I feel like the advice that I would give people who want to do anything creative, if they want to write, if they want to make video games, whatever it is, to not give up. I feel like that’s one of the most important traits you can have as a creative person. If you do anything worthwhile, if you do anything that’s meaningful, you’re going to have to confront ridicule and misunderstanding and technical and calendar challenges. You’re going to have to confront your own failings and the failings of people around you. And if you give up, it’s not going to happen and you’re never going to finish, so don’t give up. Maybe that would be surprising to people that one of the virtues that I think is really important for creative people is that tenacity to stay above inevitable disappointment because, if it makes you quit, then you’re never going to finish.
What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?
I wish I could say I went on vacation a lot, but I don’t do that. I actually do yoga and I had a great practice last year during days when I was working from 6 or 7 in the morning to 1 or 2 in the morning. Almost every day in the afternoon, I was out by the lake in Bellevue doing yoga. But more recently, something that’s helped me tremendously has been going and playing our own games. When you’re stuck, when you’re discouraged, when you think things aren’t going well, when you’re looking for another idea, you just want perspective. You need that sort of mental centeredness to make a decision. Jumping online and playing the game for four or five hours is tremendously reassuring that we’ve done something that is important and enjoyable and awesome, and it gives you the perspective of what we’re trying to do is make it better and not make something from scratch anymore. So, I’ve been doing that a lot in the last six months since the game has been out.
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
I think anybody that has ever set out to build an experience for another human being to enjoy, like to build an experience with the goal of entertaining another human being. I have tremendous admiration for that whether you’re making a cake for a three year old’s birthday or whether you’re Christopher Tolkien putting together The Silmarillion from his father’s papers. It’s just so arrogant and crazy and presumptuous to say that your goal is to entertain someone. Anyone who pours themselves into the experience of entertaining somebody else–I can talk to them for hours.