Nintendo’s Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training (call Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day in the USA) has been a huge hit in Japan, the US and around the world. But who is Dr Kawashima?
Dr Kawashima, or to give him his proper title, Professor Kawashima, is a Japanese neuroscientist who has served in Japan’s National Council, advising on language and cultural issues. His neurological work has focused on brain imaging with fMRI and how to use what has been learnt from imaging to help children learn, old people retain their mental skills and patients regain them.
Based on his work, in 2003 Dr Kawashima released Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain in Japan and it was a huge best seller. This attracted the attention of Nintendo who were looking for ideas that would appeal to people outside the normal hardcore gamers. They wanted to be able sell their new handheld to a wide range of different people. Legend has it that Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, arranged a meeting with Kawashima. Both their schedules were very busy and the only time they could get together was for an hour on the day that the Nintendo DS was launched. This hour long meeting turned into a three hour brainstorming session after which a team of developers were given 90 days to develop a prototype.
There is no doubt that Brain Training’s success has pushed Nintendo into other products that appeal to those who want to do more that just play games. The time and money invested in Wii Fit is clear example. With its new digital balance board controller and range of activities from jogging and snowboard through to meditation it has broad appeal as both a brain and body trainer.
The image accompanying this post will be recognizable to players of Dr Kawashima’s Brain Age. Regularly through the program he gives messages of support and encouragement. This doctored version comes from Add Letters.