The city of Odawara, located in Western Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan made history today when it set a new Guinness World Record for most people simultaneously playing on the same handheld. The previous record was set in the UK last summer and brought 659 people together. The Odawara Academic Development Committee teamed up with the Benesse Corporation to bring together hundreds of middle school children together to learn while they play.
Benesse Corporation has released numerous "play and learn" software titles for the Nintendo DS including its Tokutenryoku Study family of games. These games promote learning through memorization and review of textbook material but in a more portable and game-like format. The event was held in the Dynacity store in Odawara and was hosted by sixth-grader and actress Aoi Wakana and television host Azuma Takahiro.
Benesse distributed demos of their English learning software to kids, parents, and everyone else who participated in the event. In order to qualify for judging, everyone had to play simultaneously for ten minutes. The hosts also had to tell the sixth-graders to focus on their games and to be careful of turning off their handhelds. After ten minutes of quiet playtime, official Guinness judges announced that Odawara had just set a new record of 849 people, greatly surpassing the old one.
Not only did this event promote handheld gaming, but it also promoted learning and academics. "You all opened a new page in Odawara's history," said Odawara Academic Development Committee Advisor Noriaki Ozaki.