Satoshi Tajiri was born in Machida, a suburb of Tokyo, on August 28, 1965. His father was a car salesman for Nissan, and his mom was a stay-at-home mom. He was diagnosed with autism and has always been described as creative, eccentric, and reclusive As a young boy, Satoshi enjoyed being outdoors, and he was fascinated with insects. He would search ponds, forests, and other landscapes in search of new insects to catch and collect. In addition, he would develop creative new ways to catch these insects. However, in the late 1970s, the ponds and fields that Satoshi scoured in search of insects were developed into apartment buildings and shopping centers. At this time in his life, Satoshi shifted his passion for insects into video games.
As a teenager, Satoshi became fascinated with arcade games and dedicated a large amount of time playing them. In addition, Satoshi hated school, and he eventually began skipping school in order to spend more time at the arcade. Satoshi's parents viewed this hobby as delinquent because it distracted him from his studies. They were afraid that their son was throwing away his future. Nonetheless, at the age of 17, Satoshi and his friends formed a gaming magazine named Game Freak. Throughout the 1980s, Game Freak posted modest sales and was quite popular within the gaming community.
Despite their son's relative success, Satoshi's parents still did not fully support their son's passion for video games. In fact, Satoshi's dad wanted his son to become an electrical utility repairman, and he attempted to get Satoshi a job at The Tokyo Electric Power Company. Satoshi refused to take the position. Instead, he would go on to earn his high school diploma through make-up classes and complete a two-year technical degree program in electronics and computer science at the Tokyo National College of Technology.
Eventually, as Satoshi learned more about video games, he began to desire to create his own. He always dreamt of creating a game that would allow children to experience the same feeling of catching and collecting creatures, like he did when he was a kid collecting insects. Furthermore, he felt like he could produce a game that was superior to any other game on the market. And so, he learned how to write video game software, which he taught himself how to do by taking apart a Nintendo Entertainment System. In 1987, he published his first game titled "Mendel Palace". Two years later, Satoshi founded his own video game production company called Game Freak, which he named after his magazine.
In the early 1990s, when Satoshi first saw two children playing together with Game Boys using a Game Link Cable, he imagined insects crawling along the cable between the two systems. From this, his idea for Pokemon grew. He pitched the idea of Pokemon to Nintendo, and, although the company did not fully understand the concept of the game, Nintendo decided to provide him with initial funding and concept work from another game design studio called Creatures, Inc.. Over the next six years, Satoshi collaborated with a Shigeru Miyamoto, the man behind Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pikmin, and Donkey Kong, to develop the initial versions of Pokemon. These original Pokemon games soared in popularity and would result in various manga adaptions, several movies, more Pokemon games, and trading cards.
Satoshi is an excellent example of how mental illness, in this case autism, can help facilitate creativity. For example, Satoshi's autism gave him the personality trait of reclusive which fostered his independent adventures catching bugs in his childhood environment. This catching and collecting of insects would eventually provide Satoshi with the widely popular concept of Pokemon. Another trait characteristic of creatives that Satoshi possesses is an incessant drive to pursue his passion for video games in spite of traditional routes for success such as schooling (although he eventually graduated high school and obtained a technical degree) and the job at The Tokyo Electric Power Company that his dad set up for him. Moreover, due to this passion for video games, Satoshi was interested enough to literally teach himself how to create video game software by taking apart a Nintendo Entertainment System. In addition, Satoshi's collaboration with Shigeru, another creative mind, fostered Satoshi's original idea for Pokemon to help bring the final product to fruition. Finally, Satoshi possesses vivid mental imagery which was demonstrated with how he imagined insects (which would become Pokemon) travelling through the Game Link Cable.