Autism Success Stories – Satoshi Tajiri
Last week’s Autism Care UK profiled Japanese composer Hikari Ōe. This week we take a look at another Japanese autism success story and the brain behind one of the Land of the Rising Sun’s most popular exports, Satoshi Tajiri.
Who is Satoshi Tajiri?
It’s not very likely that you have heard Satoshi Tajiri, but it is very likely that you have heard of his creation that started as a way to keep himself entertained and grew into a $30 billion global franchise, incorporating video games, lunch boxes, trading cards, films, television shows, clothing ranges and even a theme park – Pokémon.
In the Spotlight.
Although not wide-known outside of gaming circles, Tajiri is an innovator and one of the most important computer game developers to date. Like his fellow Nintedo legend Shigeru Miyamoto, Tajiri’s work was inspired by childhood hobbies. Whilst Miyamoto’s creation Zelda was inspired by his boyhood adventures and explorations, Pokémon is the product of Tajiri’s love of insects and his insect collections.
Tajiri career started at the tender of 17 when he started writing and editing his own fanzine focused on thr arcade game scene Game Freak, which he ran for five years between 1981 and 1985. Despite the fact it was handwritten and stapled together it proved a cult success and Ken Sugimori who went on to illustrated the original 151 Pokémon saw the publication in a shop wanted to get involved. More and more contributors followed and Game Freak grew. As more and more contributors got involved in Tajiri realized that most games were lacking in quality. Tajiri along with Sugimori decided that most games were actually lacking quality and as such they decided to start making their own games. After Nintendo released the Family BASIC programming language, Tajiri studied it to better grasp the designs of Nintendo Entertainment System games. He then purchased the hardware to develop games. So in 1989 Tajiri and Sugimori evolved the magazine into the video game development company with the same name, Game Freak. The duo pitched their first game Quinty to large Japanese game developer Namco, who bought the rights to the game and published it. As a teenager, he was a devoted player of Donkey Kong and even published tips and shortcuts to the game. Later, he dropped out of high school but went on to attend technical college.
He also has also worked on spin-offs of the popular Mario Series Yoshi and Mario & Wario, but undoubtedly his greatest work was the Pokémon series that he devised in 1990. Tajiri first conceived the idea of Pokémon in 1990. After Tariri saw a Game Boy, the idea came together, and he decided it made the most sense on the handheld console. Tajiri pioneered the idea of connectivity between handheld game consoles, by suggesting that Game Boys could use its link cables in order to have friends do more than simply play against each other.
Tajiri grew up in rural Japan where he became obsessed with bugs, so much that other children point that he was dubbed Dr. Bug by other children, and this was the inspiration behind Pokémon. As the rural areas of the country gave way to urban areas, Tajiri wanted to give children the chance to replicate the joy he had in going out and looking for bugs, whilst combining his other great passion in his life, computer games.