At 10, dance-dancing his way to Guinness record

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Let other parents stick honor-student bumper stickers on their cars. Ted Wada has a framed certificate from Guinness World Records on his mantel to celebrate his 10-year-old's excellence in . . . video gaming.

"It is a great honor for him," said the proud father.

One recent afternoon, Ryota Wada was at home in Herndon, standing, in the shadow of the certificate, on a plastic pad connected to a Sony PlayStation console. Beads of sweat streamed down the fourth-grader's flush cheeks as he paused between rounds of Dance Dance Revolution, the game for which he quick-stepped into the record books.

"I am pretty good at this," he said modestly.

Millions of people have watched one of the boy's videos, which are collected on Ted Wada's YouTube channel and feature Ryota conquering the popular video game, in which a player selects a song, then touches four colored arrows on a plastic pad in a set sequence based on the music's rhythm.

The boy's viral video, "Ryota's Move," was shot in California when he was 5, and his little legs pumped almost spasmodically. The video turned Ryota, who attends Fox Mill Elementary School, into a minor Internet sensation before he entered first grade.

Last year, at the behest of a Guinness World Records editor who was wowed by his moves online, Ryota attempted to log a perfect score dancing to a particular song, "Heavy Eurobeat," on a particular setting - expert. With his father holding down the pad, which has a tendency to slip, Ryota nailed all 223 steps and 16 combinations. He was 9 years old.

His feat - and feet - made the "Guinness Book of World Records 2011 Gamer's Edition," which lists Ryota as "Youngest Gamer to Achieve a Perfect Score on Dance Dance Revolution."

"It made me feel pretty good," he said of his record-making moves. He shrugged, then resumed dance-dancing away on the pad, the familiar word "PERFECT!!" flashing repeatedly on a 50-inch TV screen as his father and mother, Yumi, watched with pride.

Ryota's younger brother, Yuma, and a friend from across the street pretended not to be impressed.

Kids can be recognized for all kinds of exceptional behavior, such as landing on the honor roll or winning science-fair prizes or soccer games. Ryota happens to be great at jumping around on a video-game controller, for reasons he can't quite articulate because, well, he's 10 and would rather reread "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" than reflect on his own motivations.

"Other kids say DDR is an adult game and it's very hard," he said. "I can do it very well. Why, I don't know. I think maybe because I can catch rhythm easily."


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