Here’s why we think Jon is swell…
Leonie Manshanden, Interim Director of Operations: Jon is one of the most selfless people I know. I have rarely met a person who is so driven to make other people be successful and have their moment to shine. We are truly lucky to have him on board. As our Operations Manager, he is the guy that keeps our studio humming like a fine-tuned machine. He and his team keep us supplied with all of the material things we need to do our job, day in and day out—while also making sure we’re fed, caffeinated, safe, and happy on top of it all. He ordered us 26-pound gummy bears, he brings in bubble tea after a long week—when it comes to taking care of our team, he does not mess around! Most importantly, he lets me call him J-Lo, and any dude of over 6 feet tall who lets me get away with that is pretty swell.
Your title is Operations Manager. What does that mean?
Jonathan LoPorto: My main responsibility is to handle the day-to-day operational needs of the office. Pretty much “make sure things are working.” I also work with the Operations team to put together outside events and company perks. Right now, we are supplying everyone with the fuel and love they need as they work through the final stages of making this game.
What games have you worked on?
JL: BioShock Infinite will be my first.
Describe Life at Irrational in three words or less.
JL: New Job Everyday
What is your favorite game of all time?
JL: Easy, Half-Life. No question.
What is your favorite movie?
JL: Fight Club or American Beauty. Both are pretty much about the same thing, just saying it in two very different ways.
What are your hobbies outside of work?
JL: I play guitar and like to box. I help out teaching boxing classes at a local boxing gym and at a youth center in Dorchester. There’s something about getting hit in the face that makes all of the worries of the day disappear. It’s also a good exercise in focus: all hell is breaking loose and if you get swept up in it, you’re going to get hurt. You need to stay calm and loose, and focus on what the other guy is doing. It’s very Zen. As contradictory as it sounds, I’ve chilled out a lot since I started fighting.
Have you ever knocked anyone our or been knocked out yourself?
JL: No, but one of the first times I sparred, I was way out of my league. This nicely dressed guy walks up to me while I’m warming up and asks if I’d like to spar. He was very polite about it. “Excuse me, Mister? I was wondering if you maybe wanted to spar?” I had never sparred with anyone before. I would usually just jump-rope and hit the heavy bag. But that day I was feeling adventurous, so I said “sure,” grabbed some headgear, and got in the ring. He went into the bathroom to get changed and came out wearing personalized shorts with tassels and no shirt. This guy is jacked. He gets in the ring with me, then turns around to talk to his trainer, and across his back he’s got the gnarliest prison tattoo of a shotgun. No joke. It looked like a fourth grader drew it. It was terrifying. Chills ran down my spine.
The bell rang and he came on strong. It was like being in the ring with a Cadillac. There was nowhere to go. He kept hammering me. He’d back up a bit, give me a second to comprehend the trouble I was in, then come back in and go to work. At one point he smiled and said, “Loosen up, man. It’s alright.” I remember that pissing me off so much in the moment, like he was patronizing me in my time of desperation, but he was telling me the truth. He was trying to help me. The more he came in, the more I started to get used to it and things didn’t seem so crazy.
After three rounds of just mayhem, he gave me a huge hug, and now whenever we see each other at the gym, we always take the time to catch up. Life lessons were learned that day.
Tell your favorite story about life at Irrational.
JL: In May 2011, just a few weeks before E3, we hosted an event to show BioShock Infinite to a large group of global media outlets. We rented out some meeting space in a swanky hotel in Santa Monica, and the night before the event, we were still hustling to get everything ready—making sure the sound and video were perfect, that the rooms had the right atmosphere. We sat through endless play-throughs, ensuring everything was exactly as it should be. The team was anxious about how people would receive the game, which so many people had been working hard on to complete in time for this event. Ken was deadpan and very short-spoken the whole time. His baby was going on display to the scrutinizing eyes of the global media community; he had every right to feel some nerves. I was worried for him and wanted to make sure that everything went as smoothly as possible
The next day, our guests arrived and took their seats in the theater room that we had created, followed quickly by Ken. I closed the door behind them and turned to prep the other rooms for interviews and whatnot. I began to hear the sounds of explosions through the wall, the yelling of Elizabeth, the grunting of Booker. Twenty minutes later, all I heard was applause—a lot of it. Then the door swung open and a herd of gushing people rushed out, followed quickly by Ken smiling ear-to-ear. We had something good on our hands. Now, a year and a half later, seeing how the demo has evolved into a full game makes me feel very proud to be part of the Irrational team.