Who Invented Simon Says? (Invention Timeline Explained)

“Simon says, close your eyes!” “Simon says, turn around twice!” “Simon says, stick your tongue out!” “Simon says, form a straight line!” If these give you a spang of nostalgia and flashbacks of your 4-year-old self in kindergarten while giggling and playing with your classmates, well, you’re not the only one. The game “Simon Says” is one of the most famous and well-loved playground games worldwide. There’s a high chance that almost every child has played it. It doesn’t require any special equipment and its rules are straightforward.

So, have you ever wondered who this Simon is? And why are we so keen on following him? Well, this article will give a little story behind the origin of the phrase “Simon Says,” who Simon is, and why we are still playing it.

Who invented Simon Says?

The invention of the game “Simon Says” was credited to Marcus Tullius Cicero, a Roman orator, wordsmith, and statesman. He was so good at public speaking that his presence commanded everyone to listen to him. The phrase “Cicero says” later evolved to “Simon says” for its poetic alliteration.

The Simon Says’ key contributors (and evolution)

  • Marcus Tullius Cicero
    Cicero Says

    The original phrase was “Cicero Says” and not “Simon Says.” Marcus Tullius Cicero was a respected Latin orator, statesman, and wordsmith. Marcus Cicero was so good at public speaking that people listened and clung to his every word. Thus, the phrase “Cicero dicit fac hoc” or “Cicero is telling you to do this” became popular. 

  • Simon De Montfort (1264)
    Who is this, Simon?

    In 1264, Simon De Monfort was a person with so much power and authority that he outranked King Henry III. He captured King Henry and his son, Edward I. The people feared Simon Monfort so much that he could revoke any decision made by the KingKing. 

  • Scholars
    Peak of Popularity

    There is no concrete evidence to pinpoint exactly when “Simon says” became a popular children’s game. But, in the 1840s, children played it in classrooms, parties, and playgrounds worldwide.

  • Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison (1978)
    Short-term Memory Game

    In 1978, game developers Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison invented an electronic game based on the simplistic concept Simon says. The game tests the short-term memory of the players since they need to replicate the musical sequence given to them by pressing the right buttons.

  • Recent Studies (2020)
    A Game for Physical Literacy

    Recent studies have shown that frequent games of “Simon says” help improve children’s physical literacy. The game makes it easier for the children to be more comfortable with moving their bodies. 

When was Simon Says invented?

The origin of the words “Simon says” dates back to 60 BCE. It was initially “Cicero Says” but later evolved to, “Simon Says” because of its poetic alliteration.

A brief history of Simon Says

“Simon Says” is a famous playground game for kids. It is pretty easy to play. A leader (usually a teacher) commands that the players (kids or students) need to follow. Those who fail to follow the instructions will be eliminated. Because of its simplistic nature, it has become a favorite physical and mental activity for young kids worldwide.

There’s not much information about the origin or history of the game “Simon Says.” However, its history is very straightforward, just like the game itself.

The earliest version of the game is credited to Marcus Tullius Cicero. He was a well-known and highly regarded Roman orator, wordsmith, and statesman. In other words, he was a smooth talker, and he knew his way around words. So, legend has it, when Cicero opened his mouth to speak, everyone listened and clung to his words. Thus, the phrase “Cicero is telling you to do this” or “Cicero Says So” or “Cicero dicit fac hoc” was born. Scholars believe that “Cicero Says So” later transformed into “Simon Says So” because of its poetic alliteration.

Another person accredited for developing the game “Simon Says” was Simon De Monfort. In 1264, Simon De Monfort became a powerful and influential person. He even captured and outranked King Henry III and his son King Edward I. People back then feared Simon De Monfort, so they tried to follow everything he commanded; thus, the phrase “Simon Says.”

After Simon De Monfort, nothing more is told about the history of the game “Simon Says.” But in 1840, it became a popular children’s game worldwide. Suddenly, everyone played it in the classrooms, parties, and playgrounds. Its popularity came very fast that no one could tell exactly where and when it started.

In 1978, an electronic game was developed by Ralph H. Baer and Howard J. Morrison. Their game was named “Simon” based on the simplistic concept and rules of the game “Simon Says.” Simon (the electronic game) was designed to test and enhance the player’s short-term memory. The game’s goal is to replicate or repeat a musical sequence by hitting the right buttons. 

From 1840 to the present, many studies have been made about the positive effects of the game “Simon Says” on the holistic development of a child. Several studies proved its effect on a child’s cognitive development, social skills, concentration, and gross motor skills. One of the most recent studies discusses its significance in improving children’s physical literacy. The study proves the game makes it easier for the children to be familiar and comfortable with moving their bodies. 

From a simple playground game, “Simon Says” has become an effective tool in teaching children.

The Simon Says timeline

  1. 60 BCE
    A Smooth Talker

    Marcus Tullius Cicero used his talent in speaking to persuade people to listen to his principles and political stands. He was a Roman orator, academic skeptic, and philosopher who could command people to listen. Thus the phrase “Cicero says.”

  2. 1264
    Scary Simon

    During the reign of King Henry III, a person named Simon De Monfort rose to power. The people feared him because of his influence (which at one point was even higher than the KingKing’s). So they followed whatever “Simon Says.”

  3. 1840’s
    In a Flash

    In the 1840s, the popularity of the game “Simon Says” skyrocketed. It suddenly became famous around the world.

  4. 1978
    Electronic Simon

    An electronic game, Simon, was developed by Ralph Baer and Howard Morrison. It followed the simple nature of the game, Simon says.

  5. 2020
    More than a Game

    Many studies about “Simon Says” proved it was more than just a game. Simon Says is used by educators around the world to develop children’s cognitive, social, physical, and even emotional skills.

Where was Simon Says invented?

The first known concept of the game “Simon Says” was credited to Cicero from the 60-40 BCE, who lived in Italy as a philosopher and orator.

The importance of the Simon Says

  • Improves concentration skills

    Most games require concentration. “Simon says” is a game that improves the concentration skills of children who play it since they need to give their full attention to the instructions given to them to win the game.

  • Enhances listening skills

    Listening is just one of the macro skills that a person needs to hone. Playing “Simon says” can develop listening skills since players will be forced to listen carefully and attentively.

  • Gross motor skills

    Bodily-kinesthetic is one of the nine multiple intelligence a person has, according to Dr. Howard Gardner. The game “Simon says” can develop gross motor skills and enhance the bodily-kinesthetic intelligence of an individual. 

  • Think fast!

    The leader of the game, “Simon says,” is the one who gives commands. Therefore, they must be a fast thinker to come up with challenging orders for the players.

Simon Says by the numbers

  • ∞  stands for infinity. There is no specific number of commands in a game of “Simon says.” Instead, a game can be played after 5, 20, or 100 orders, depending on the difficulty of the tasks and the players’ abilities. 
  • 2006In 2006, a film entitled “Simon Says” was produced. It was a horror and thriller film starring Crispin Glover and Margo Harshman. 
  • 28There are 28 different versions of “Simon says” worldwide. Teachers use their lingua franca to make it easier for students to follow commands and understand instructions.
  • 2016In July 2016, a smartphone version of the arcade game “Simon Says” was released.

Five facts about Simon Says

  • It means “to listen”

    Simon is a common Hebrew name that means hearing or listening. In the bible, Simon means “to hear and be heard.”

  • Effective for teaching kids

    Kids will go out of their way to disobey you. This is a normal part of their development as they crave independence. One way to teach kids to follow simple instructions is through a game of “Simon says.”

  • Favorite party game

    Simon Says is a well-loved game for children’s parties. But it can also be a fun activity for adults. Spice up the commands a bit, and the room will be filled with giggling and excited adults.

  • Simon who?

    Little kids might look at you and ask, “who’s Simon?” To avoid the long explanation, you can change “Simon says” to “the teacher says” or use your name.

  • Different languages

    “Simon says” is a popular game worldwide. It was translated into different languages to make it easier for kids to follow. For example, it was called “Kolonel Bevel” in Afrikaans, “Simon siger” in Danish, “Sabi ni Simon” in Filipino, and “Mando, mando” in Spanish.

FAQs about Simon Says

  • What are the rules of “Simon says?

    Simon says” is a game that kids usually play, and it literally follows the leader’s orders. You must follow the command that follows the phrase “Simon says.” Players who fail to follow commands will be eliminated, and the last player wins the game.

  • Can a three-year-old play “Simon says?

    Yes, a three-year-old can play, Simon says. It is actually a good activity for kids to follow instructions and be aware of their body parts. Adults may enjoy this game too.

  • How do you make, “Simon says,” fun?

    You can start with slow and simple commands, and then, later on, you can make the commands a bit fast and complicated. Make silly tasks and funny instructions.  

  • How does “Simon says” help cognitive development?

    It is an excellent activity to enhance language, memory, and literacy skills. It also increases emotional stability and impulse control. It is also a perfect strategy for teaching shapes, colors, and body parts.

  • What are the benefits of playing, Simon says?

    Simon says” is not just a simple game for children but can also help develop their sportsmanship, sequencing skills, and following directions. 

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