In Apple’s eight-year history of developing user-friendly apps, Pokemon Go became the most downloaded app within the first week of its debut. The game was initially only available in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, but has since spread its Pokemon-mania worldwide. It is not known just how many downloads there were last year, but it is certain the game became an instant phenomenon.


John Hanke is the man dubbed “The Mastermind” behind the Pokemon Go craze. He taught himself programming when he was just a teenager. His interest in technology grew along with him and he developed a passion for interactive gaming. He began working for Google after graduating college with an MBA.


The innovative entrepreneur split from Google, and today he is the founder and CEO of Niantic Labs, the birthplace of the Pokemon Go game. However, the original Pokemon craze began with a Japanese writer named Satoshi Tajiri, and illustrator, Ken Sugimori. These men joined forces as Tajiri & Co. and developed the first “pocket monsters” as they were called in Japanese.  


In just a few months, Pokemon Go captured the world.

Their Pokemon brand grew to include games for gaming consoles and mobile devices, card games, cartoons, and even Pokemon-themed parks. Niantic Labs collaborated with the Pokemon company in 2016 to release Pokemon Go and the phenomenon took on another level of popularity. People of all ages enjoy the game for the seemingly realistic advantages it offers.


Since the idea is for the player to try to “catch” the Pokemon characters in different areas of their “virtual world,” players find themselves outside walking about and enjoying the fresh air. People are meeting others and striking up a conversation as they are out playing the game. It has also been noted to help relieve symptoms of depression.


John Grohol, Psy.D., noted the following:

“For a person suffering from depression or another mood disorder, the idea of exercise can be nearly impossible to contemplate, much less do. For someone suffering from social anxiety, the idea of going outside and possibly bumping into others who may want to talk to you is daunting.”


He further states the game is helpful to people suffering from these symptoms because it gets people motivated to get out and do what they probably would not do otherwise.


It should be noted though that people have encountered negative circumstances as a result of playing the game.


In O’Fallon, MI four suspects were accused of robbery near a Circle K store using the geolocation feature of the Pokemon Go app to anticipate an unsuspecting victim’s location. In rural Wyoming, a young woman found a dead man’s body lying face down in a river. She was looking for a “water Pokemon.” She was able to call the police who confirmed they had been investigating the man’s death.


Makers of the game caution users to beware of their surroundings while playing the game. Just like it is unwise to text and drive, it is unwise to play a mobile game while driving. Yet, it is the phenomenon that has taken the world by storm. It brings people together, gets them out exercising, and it even helped solve an unsolved mystery in the process.


Whether people are using the game as motivation, or just enjoying the fun of it, Pokemon Go is steadily making history.


Have you gotten hooked on Pokemon Go? What mobile apps are your favorite to play? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter: @lcarterwriter.