James Halliday was born in 1972 in Middletown, Ohio. Halliday had an unhappy childhood with an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother. Although he was very intelligent, he was socially inept, and most of his focus was on his on his obsessions, which included computers, comic books, movies, and video games. After his death, some psychologists concluded that Halliday was likely on the autism spectrum. When Halliday created the OASIS with Ogden Morrow, he was motivated by the desire to create a game that would be accessible for all. Eventually, he became motivated by greed. Halliday was recognized as one of the greatest video game designers in history and was a multi-millionaire by his thirtieth birthday. 

By the end of his life, Halliday was a recluse with no friends or family. There were even rumors that he was insane since he’d lived in self-imposed isolation for fifteen years. By the end of the novel, the reader learns that Halliday clearly lived with many regrets. One of his primary regrets was not ever telling Kira Underwood, Ogden Morrow’s late wife, that he was in love with her. As Anorak, he explains to Wade at the end of the novel that he regretted spending so much time in the OASIS. He wishes that he had spent more time in the real world. The fact that Halliday created a button that would destroy the OASIS proves that he was concerned about the OASIS negatively affecting humanity.