Satoshi Tajiri - His journey with ASD and the creation of Pokémon
One of the biggest cultural phenomena of recent decades is the rise of the Pokémon franchise. It has touched every corner of the world and has spawned several TV series, movies, games, and merchandise that have captivated the imagination of millions of children and adults since 1995. Few characters are as easily recognizable as Pikachu, the mascot and face to several of the games and the show.
As big an impact as it has had, the Pokémon universe shows no signs of slowing down any time soon either. The global release of the newest set of games for Nintendo hit the market on November 2018 and once again showed that the creative genius behind Pokémon was able to connect to people of all ages and from diverse cultural backgrounds in a very special way.
Mr. Satoshi Tajiri was born in rural Japan and developed a fascination with bugs that may look all too familiar to people who are knowledgeable about ASD. He spent hours studying their behavior and characteristics. While children are often interested in insects, his enthrallment was different. It inspired him and stayed with him for years beyond his childhood. This strong interest would eventually nudge him to create the universe for the creatures that we now know as Pokémon, influenced also by a later passion of his: his love for video games.
While face to face communication can be overwhelming, a new device hit the market that allowed video game players to compete against each other using their gaming devices while also enabling a different type of interactive activity. The Gameboy cable was instrumental in the development of the Pokémon games. Mr. Tajiri realized that it could be used to establish two-way communication beyond competitive battles, and so his Pokémon trading system was born. His passion for bugs and his careful observations and realization that video games could help connect youth with nature and to one another, through a different means of communication, is what ultimately allowed the Pokémon franchise to flourish.
While Mr. Satoshi Tajiri has confirmed that he has ASD, he does not publicly talk about his condition and would rather remain away from the spotlight, focusing on work and on pursuing his own interests above fame and fortune. Still, it has been suggested that his relentless focus and drive are a result of his condition, and this goes to show that ASD does not have to be an obstacle for success. When guided correctly, ASD can enhance children’s ability to learn about a topic that they are passionate about, and even help them envision meaningful goals.