Meet John Hanke, the Abilene-Area Man Who Helped Create ‘Pokemon Go’
The game that's taking the entire country by storm has a unique tie to Texas.
John Hanke, the CEO and Founder of "Pokemon Go" developer Niantic, grew up in Cross Plains, Texas, just east of Abilene.
Hanke's company cut its teeth on augmented reality mobile gaming with "Ingress" before developing "Pokemon Go" for Nintendo. But the Texas man's expertise for blending real-world maps and addictive gameplay dates back to 2004, when he joined the Google Geo team. Yes, the group that created Google Maps and Google Street View.
Leaving the Google Geo team in 2010 to start the original Niantic Labs within Google, Hanke's passion for leveraging the real world into a game bore fruit two years later with "Ingress." The augmented reality massively multiplayer online (MMO) game tasked players on two different teams with locating and capturing "portals" at local landmarks. Sound familiar?
Around a week after its U.S. launch, the app shows no signs of slowing down. There's a reason your Facebook feed is seemingly filled with status updated related to the game. Yes, it's really that popular. And Nintendo, who owns the Pokemon brand, saw its stock price surge by more than 30 percent in a week.
According to The Guardian, the app was opened nearly as much as Twitter by players and has exceeded the number of total Tinder users. Yes, that's days after it came out. Tinder originally released in 2013.
The success of "Pokemon Go" has caused some unexpected issues for law enforcement, who are now dealing with an increased number of people out on the streets, searching for that rare Mew or next PokeStop.
"People using the app tend to focus on the mobile device and ignore their surroundings. Situational awareness is something we always push," Lt. Ray Mendoza, Lubbock Police Department Public Information Officer, told KFYO News.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) issued a humorous tweet about the dangers of playing "Pokemon Go" and driving, begging players, "Please don’t make us create [a] 'Don’t #PokemonGO & Drive' campaign."