Getting to Know You: Content-Artist Ninja Jon

“My OCD took over and the scope creep was real.”

In this meet the team spotlight, the interviewer becomes the interviewee! We take Jon, resident artist & Navy veteran, flip the script, and question the one so often on the other side of the curtain. All this in a continued effort to shed light on the crew that make Ninja things possible, and hopefully give way to some chuckles and laughter in the meantime.


For those unable to listen to the audio version of Getting to Know You, an abbreviated transcript of this riveting Q&A session can be found below:

1. What is your favorite video game of all time?

That’s easier to answer than I thought it would be. It is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64. It’s one of those games where I can even hear the music for it and I am taken back to middle school days of playing that on the N64.

2. If you could live anywhere in the world w/o money being a factor, where would it be?

Probably Tokyo or Okinawa. When I was in the military I spent quite a bit of time in Japan. Absolutely fell in love with the culture, the people, the place in general, the food…probably the most factor there for me personally. Having an insatiable appetite for things like sushi. Definitely someplace in Japan.

3. If you could sit down for an hour with one figure from all of human history, who would it be?

Harkening back to my childhood, I always had a very peaked curiosity for Bruce Lee. I grew up with a lot of action/kung-fu flicks. Bruce Lee was always my go-to…as I got into exercise at a very young age, and then led into my martial arts ‘career’ at the time, I just always really looked up to his way of life and how he saw things, and how he performed in a physical manner.

4. What’s your biggest day-to-day motivator?

My son; hands down. I found ultimate meaning in life when I had my son. I love my job, I love my wife, but my son is the ultimate motivator for anything that I do.

5. What is your biggest fear?

Definitely spiders. So bad so that recently when I saw one on my back porch light, I went all “Sigourney Weaver–Aliens”, and took an aerosol can and a grill lighter, and torched the guy into oblivion. I understand that they are a valuable part of the ecosystem, but I can’t sleep knowing that is around my house.

6. If you had to choose, would you rather fight one horse-sized hamster, or twenty hamster-sized horses?

I’m going to go with one horse sized hamster, because at least I have just one enemy, one combatant to go after, and I can find a way to bring him down. Especially if there is anything lying around, if not, just go for the jugular. But if I’m fighting 20…that’s rough. Numbers are the enemy at that point.

7. If you could be one video game character complete with their powers, who would you choose?

You know I really love Hideo Kojima and his series Metal Gear Solid. So, I would probably go for Solid Snake. He’s rough, he’s grizzled, he’s tough.

8. If you could be one DC or Marvel hero, who would you be?

I grew up a DC kid, but the older I get, the more I lean Marvel. Everyone wants to say Batman, right? I’m not going to be typical. …it would be an X-Men. The immediate ones that come to mind are Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Gambit…you know that Cajun guy, he’s got a smooth talk, he’s got a cool power, I love the bo staff.

9. What is the average airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

You know it’s been a long time since I’ve watched Monty Python. I don’t remember what the correct answer was.

Interviewer: Was there a correct answer?

I don’t know that there was. Man it’s been way too long since I’ve seen that movie, so I’m going to say 3, or 42, it’s going to depend on if it is African or European.

10. If advanced cybernetics were a thing, would you take a bionic arm or an Inspector Gadget hat-helicopter?

You know I really like things like Deus Ex and Blade Runner, so I’m all for that grimdark future of cybernetics and whatnot. I would hands down take the arm.

11. What is one of the most memorable moments of your life, good or bad?

That’s like a gut punch..I could take this down a dark road, but let’s keep this uplifted. So, I’m going to say the birth of my son. It was also one of the scariest moments…we almost lost my wife in her giving birth. I won’t go into details, but she’s fine, she’s alive, she’s good. But you know I got my little mini-me/best friend out of that, so yeah, the birth of my son.

12. You angered the gods and are cursed to spend the rest of your life as an animal, but you get to pick which animal. Which do you choose?

Are you writing my biography? How did you know?? [both laugh] A wolf. Grey wolf.

13. If your name wasn’t Jon, what would it be?

Historically I’ve played pen and paper RPGs, a lot of video game RPGs…anytime I have a character, my go-to name is ‘Mairik’. With my Irish descent, I really like Celtic/Gaelic names, that is [also] why my son’s name is Orin.

14. What’s your favorite movie?

Blade Runner. Easy. Director’s Cut!

15. What’s your favorite website? Ninja Forms is not a valid answer.

It would have to – that’s kind of my go-to. They’re like a video game news outlet, really not even news at this point, more like infotainment. I frequent them for an easy listen, a good chuckle, etc.

16. If you had to go get another tattoo right now, what would you get?

I want to do something harkening to the other side of my family, the Norwegian side. I want to do some kind of rune affectation, aesthetic, on the arm that’s predominately tattooed anyways. I’m working toward filling it up and going full sleeve. Something Runic.

17. You served for quite a few years in the Navy. What was your favorite part of what you did during your time there?

The travel, the food. Travel = food. I liked meeting new peoples from other cultures. That’s always a high in my life, meeting people and understanding their way of life. But the travel, which led to the food was numero uno.

18. What was the coolest place you visited with the Navy?

The easy answer would be to say Japan, but if I dig a little deeper, it would be where I took my shore leaves all the time: Thailand. Once again, the food…having a Muay Thai martial arts background, I would go there to see real Thailand Muay Thai fights, talk to the locals, and get more in touch with that sort of thing.

19. This is not a question, but I can put a question mark at the end if it hurts your OCD. You recently built an arcade machine. Tell us about it!

Originally, I was going to built it from absolute scratch, wood and everything, but then I found a nice little company out of Georgia ( Super cool guys, very efficient, very nice cabinets.

So, I ordered that from them and I gutted out an older high end pc, what used to be [my last gaming pc], and installed it in the cabinet. I got everything running, all my games/rom sets (totally legal romsets by the way). Threw in a nice LCD tv. Got a nice custom joystick board-set, so for any arcade gaming goodness for up to two players, I’m rollin’.

It was childhood wish fulfillment, a bucket list item.

20. This isn’t a question either, sorry. You recently rewrote the 8-bit classic Mario game to star the Ninja Forms Ninja. It’s really cool. Tell us about it!

I really like retro games and I’m big on nostalgia…

I wanted to know how Nintendo made their original NES games and found out about 6502 Assembly [code], then I went down the next logical path…Super Mario Bros., I wondered if I could reverse engineer it, and rebuilt if from the ground up with my own Assembly code, but also incorporating our ninja mascot as the main character, new enemies, backdrops, color palettes, music, etc.

I was obsessively doing this project for a solid 2+ months, and I even took vacation time to pretty much solely work on this. I then decided I wanted to do a full package gift to the team. So I made 15 reproduction cartridges, soldering circuit boards, installing the rom sets, and also doing custom packaging: cases, cover art, manual, character art. It was a huge project.

My OCD took over and the scope creep was real.

…But that’s not all, Jon is then subjected to a BONUS round question!

21. You wake up and find yourself in the the middle of Rome, circa 100CE. You have a silver 1980 model DeLorean, an iPod with the complete Bon Jovi discography, and 100 pounds of fireworks. What do you do?

That’s a really cool time [period] too. I would want to end up being some kind of influencer. I think I would try to lean into the fact that I’m a man from the future…subtly guide things here and there, try and make the world a better place for when we get back to where we are now. I don’t want to walk about like I’m a witch or a god.

Interviewer: You’re going to shape the future?

A little bit, not too much.

Interviewer: But not utilizing the Bon Jovi discography? 

I would absolutely be using that! Actually the DeLorean would be the thing I would set aside. I would be going the music route–how could they not respect me with that discography!?