Deceptively simple...

A game for 3 or more people (most often children). One of the people is 'it', AKA Simon. The others must do what Simon tells them to do. There is a catch, of course. You must always listen for the magic phrase is "Simon says". If Simon says "Simon says jump", you jump (if you don't jump, you're out). But if Simon says "jump", you don't jump (if you do jump, you're out). If Simon doesn't preface his command with "Simon says", you don't do it.

In general, it's the spirit of the command, not the actions that matters; if Simon says "Simon says touch you toes", you only have to show you're trying to touch your toes. It's the ability to distinguish between valid and invalid demands, rather than physically ability, that matters here.

It is Simon's task to try to get everyone out as quickly as possible, and it is every one else's job to stay 'in' for as long as possible. The last of Simon's followers to stay in wins (although the game is not always played all the way through). Until you try it, you can't understand how hard this can be. It is advised that, for maximum enjoyment, you try it while you are still a child.

Some closely related games are Mother, May I? (AKA Captain May I?), Port and Starboard (AKA Ship Captain), and of course, Follow the Leader.

The History of the Game "Simon Says"

After doing a new theatrical production, "Saturday Night at Grossinger's", I learned something rather interesting.

The story is about the history of the Grossinger family, and how they built the famous Grossinger Hotel in the Catskill Mountains between the 30's-60's. The hotel was run by the family, with Jenny Grossinger (the mother) in charge. Harry, her husband, had an old friend named Sheldon Seltzer, that they invited to work for them as a tummler. His job was to mingle with the guests, and keep them entertained. The problem was that they were all old altercockers, and didn't want to travel or talk too much. To get them up and moving, Sheldon invented the game of "Sheldon Says", which followed roughly the same rules as mentioned in the above writeup. It was an instant hit, and over time it spread across the United States as visitors brought it back to their families and they passed it on.

Somewhere in that travel the name changed from Sheldon to Simon, and it stuck that way. No one knows who Simon is. What started as a game to get old ladies up and exercising ended up being a hit childrens' game that is still popular today. Sheldon Seltzer died in 1984 of old age.


Seeing as there is no tummler node yet, a tummler is a person who goes onstage as a comedian to introduce acts in a talent show. They also mingle with the crowd between shows, and provide comedic entertainment. I will node that someday.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.