Joseph Staten
Joe Staten (2007).jpg
Staten at the 2007 Comic-Con International
Alma materNorthwestern University
OccupationWriter, cinematic director
EmployerXbox Game Studios
343 Industries

Joseph Staten is an American writer best known for his work at video game studio Bungie.

At Bungie, Staten served as director of cinematics for the studio's games, including the Halo series; he would write mission scripts and movie dialogue for the titles. He has also been involved in managing the expansion of the Halo franchise to other game studios and producers, including Peter Jackson's Wingnut Interactive. Though not a published author previously, Tor Books approached Staten to write the fifth Halo novelization, Halo: Contact Harvest. Released in 2007, the novel reached #3 on The New York Times bestseller list in the first week of its release and received positive reviews. Staten rejoined Microsoft Studios as a senior creative director on January 9, 2014.

Early life and education

Joseph Staten is the son of a minister who is a professor of theology and philosophy of religion.[1] He entered Northwestern University in 1990 with the aspiration of becoming a professional actor.[2] Realizing he was not leading man material, he switched his focus to other subjects and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in communication and international studies in 1994. Staten also has studied at the University of Chicago, where he received a Master of Arts degree in international relations in 1997.[3]

After being rejected for employment with the Central Intelligence Agency, Staten dropped the idea of entering the foreign service and instead helped his family at their winery in Sonoma Valley.[1] He pursued a number of jobs before becoming a staff member at game development studio Bungie in 1998 after meeting some of the developers in online Myth matches.[2][4]


Staten's former role at Bungie was director of cinematics and was responsible for the in-game movies for Bungie's Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and Halo 3.[2][5] Work on the games at "crunch time" involved 80-hour weeks and stretches without sleep maxing out at 72 hours.[2] Staten worked alongside three other staff writers at Bungie, each with their own separate role: Frank O'Connor developed Halo 3's combat dialogue, Rob McLees focused on Halo canon and working with licensing partners, Luke Smith interacted with the fans online, and Staten developed the cinematics and missions scripts.[6] Staten said in an interview that he considered it challenging to write for the games, as "first person shooters [are] all about writing 'between the bullets'"—relating plot information to the players in between action sequences. "You need to be efficient and clever to give players the story—the context—they need. But you don't want to push too hard or they'll reject it." During his work on the games he read science fiction works by Iain Banks, Robert A. Heinlein, and Vernor Vinge.[7] In addition to his writing contributions, Staten lends his voice to small aliens known as Grunts in all three video games.[2][8]

Though previous Halo novels had been written by professional writers like Eric Nylund and William C. Dietz, publisher Tor Books chose Staten to write the fifth Halo novelization, entitled Halo: Contact Harvest.[7] Editor Eric Raab noted in the book's press release that "who better to tell the tale" of humanity's encounter with the antagonistic alien Covenant than Staten, who had "intimate knowledge" of the series' story.[9] The novel is an ensemble piece, with the action being narrated from both human and alien viewpoints; the work of Staten's favorite science-fiction authors helped teach him the importance of honing a "strong, consistent voice".[10] Staten found that writing compelling action involved slowing things down, paradoxically the opposite of the fast-paced gameplay of a Halo title.[7] He considered the book the perfect way to elaborate on the Halo story without stripping it down for a video game,[11] and flesh out the character of Avery Johnson more than the games had allowed.[1]

Staten (left) discusses building game franchises at the 2010 Game Developers Conference.
Staten (left) discusses building game franchises at the 2010 Game Developers Conference.

On release, Contact Harvest reached a top spot of #3 on the New York Times bestseller list,[12] where it remained for four weeks.[13] The novel also appeared on the USA Today bestsellers list at the same time.[14] Reviewers noted that despite being an unproven writer, Staten had succeeded in crafting an excellent novel.[15] The novel's success was considered to be evidence that games were breaking into the mainstream, and that the genre was becoming increasingly about the story.[11]

After Contact Harvest's release Staten played an important role in the development of offshoots to the Halo franchise. He traveled to New Zealand several times to work with Peter Jackson and Weta Workshop.[16] Staten assisted with the fiction of Ensemble Studios title Halo Wars, and the now-postponed Halo film.[5] In interviews, Staten has explained that the game's protagonist, the Master Chief, would serve as a supporting character rather than who the film would focus on.[17] He worked on story development for the Halo 3 expansion, Halo 3: ODST.[18] Staten provided the voices for a number of characters as placeholder audio during the representational play testing of the game in December 2008.[19] Staten was last working for Bungie as the writer and design director for Destiny.[20] On September 24, 2013, Bungie announced that Staten had left the company to pursue new creative challenges.[21]


Staten rejoined Microsoft Studios (now known as Xbox Game Studios) as a senior creative director on January 9, 2014.[22] On March 12, 2015, 343 Industries' official website posted a blog post detailing a list of upcoming Halo novels. One of the novels listed is Halo: Shadow of Intent authored by Joseph Staten and released on December 7, 2015.[23] He is the lead writer for Microsoft's ReCore and Crackdown 3, released on September 13, 2016 and February 15, 2019 respectively.[24][25]

On August 26, 2020, 343 Industries announced Staten joined the team as Campaign Project Lead for Halo Infinite.[26] 343 Industries later announced that Joseph's role had changed to Head of Creative for Halo Infinite.[27]

Personal life

Staten is married and has two children.[1] On June 18, 2011, he gave the convocation address to the class of 2011 of the Northwestern University School of Communication .[28]


  1. ^ a b c d Perry, Douglass (October 29, 2007). "The Halo Harvest Interview, Part 1". GameTap. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lu, Cathy (July 1, 2006). "Halo's Big Grunt". Northwestern Magazine. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  3. ^ Dudley, Brian (June 29, 2009). "Developers at Bungie ready to spring new heroes in the 'Halo' universe". The Seattle Times. Retrieved June 30, 2009.
  4. ^ "Meet The Team". Bungie. April 1, 2008. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  5. ^ a b O'Connor, Frank (May 10, 2007). "Halo: Contact Harvest". Bungie. Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  6. ^ Croal, N'Gai (January 15, 2008). "The Joseph Staten Interview, Part I". Newsweek. Archived from the original on October 10, 2008. Retrieved July 12, 2008.
  7. ^ a b c Johnson, Stephen (October 31, 2007). "EXCLUSIVE: Joseph Staten Interview". G4 TV. Archived from the original on January 3, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2008.
  8. ^ Bolton, Bill; Chris Micieli, Mark Turcotte (November 6, 2009). "Podcast Episode #54 - Joseph Staten". Adrenaline Vault. Archived from the original on October 31, 2009. Retrieved November 7, 2009.—interview segment from 0:11:00–0:28:00.
  9. ^ Tor Books (November 4, 2007). "Tor Books Debuts Halo: Contact Harvest Today". PR Newswire. p. 1.
  10. ^ O'Connor, Frank; Joseph Staten (May 10, 2007). "Top Story: Halo: Contact Harvest". Bungie. Archived from the original on August 22, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
  11. ^ a b Joffe-Walt, Chana; Staten, Joseph (January 8, 2008). Best-Selling Book Shows Halo Game's Wide Appeal (Flash). National Public Radio. Retrieved January 13, 2008.
  12. ^ Brightman, James (November 19, 2007). "Halo: Contact Harvest Becomes New York Times Bestseller in First Week". Game Daily. Archived from the original on January 3, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2008.
  13. ^ "Title Profile: Halo: Contact Harvest". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on February 7, 2009. Retrieved April 4, 2008.
  14. ^ Beradini, César (November 19, 2007). "Halo: Contact Harvest Debuts on NY Times Bestseller List". Team Xbox. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved January 14, 2008.
  15. ^ Clausen, Joel (December 1, 2007). "Book Review: Contact Harvest". PlanetXbox360. Retrieved January 20, 2008.
  16. ^ Fritz, Ben (October 9, 2005). "The Jackson brain trust hooks up with 'Halo'". Chicago Tribune. p. 30.
  17. ^ Caron, Frank (January 18, 2008). "Bungie writing director Joseph Staten talks Halo film". ArsTechnica. Retrieved June 29, 2008.
  18. ^ Jarrard, Brian; Luke Smith, Chad Armstrong (October 31, 2008). The Bungie Podcast 10/31/08: With Joseph Staten, Martin O'Donnell, and Jim McQuillan (.MP3 (zipped)) (Podcast). Washington: Bungie. Retrieved November 2, 2008.
  19. ^ Urk (December 19, 2008). "Bungie Weekly Update: 12/19/08". Bungie. Archived from the original on December 23, 2008. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
  20. ^ Mihoerck, Dan (June 11, 2013). "Destiny - E3 2013 Stage Demo Video". Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  21. ^ Dague, David (September 24, 2013). "It's been an honor". Bungie. Bungie. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  22. ^ Campbell, Colin (January 9, 2014). "Former Bungie bigwig Joe Staten returns to Microsoft". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  23. ^ "Canon Fodder - Novel Ideas". March 12, 2015.
  24. ^ Makuch, Eddie (December 31, 2015). "Xbox One Exclusive ReCore Written By Destiny, Halo Universe Co-Creator". GameSpot. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  25. ^ "Crackdown 3: Interview with Microsoft's Joseph Staten & Jorg Neumann". Geek Culture. February 2, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  26. ^ Junysek, John (August 27, 2020). "FAMILIAR FACTS". 343 Industries. Archived from the original on August 27, 2020. Retrieved August 27, 2020.
  27. ^ "INSIDE INFINITE - MARCH 2021". 343 Industries. March 25, 2021. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  28. ^ Errera, Claude (June 21, 2011). "Anything fun to do alone is more fun with others". Halo.Bungie.Org. Retrieved June 22, 2011.