Remember Simon? You will!

Published on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 in , , , ,

Sherman, it's time to set the way-back machine to the early 1980s, to remember a popular game called Simon.

Simon was game that tested your memory by challenging you to recall an ever-lengthening sequence of flashing lights. The original version looked like this. Over the years, it has had several makeovers, including a transparent look, on it's way to the current incarnation.

If you want to experience what it was like to play Simon, try this Flash version. Go ahead and try a few games, and come back after it drives you mad.

You're back? That was quick. Would you like to score better on Simon than you did before? Simple...write the sequence down! How's the computer going to know?

OK, anyone who has read more than one entry knows that I have a method up my sleeve for helping do the actual memory work.

First, you need to be familiar with the Link system, the most basic of memory techniques. Practice this until you can remember, say, a list of 20 common nouns and verbs, backwards and forwards.

Next, we need a simple way to make the colors more memorable. To do this, we're going to reduce the colors to their first letters: R(ed), G(reen), Y(ellow) and B(lue). To make this even easier, we're going to remember the colors in pairs, and give each of the 16 possible color pairs a unique, memorable image:

BB=BB (picture a BB Gun)

GG=Gag (someone choking)

RB=Rabies (picture a dog foaming at the mouth)
RY=Roy (Siegfried & Roy)

YB=Young & Beautiful (obvious)
YR=Year (Calendar)

When the game begins, you simply think of the first color. When the next color comes up, you put it together with the first color to create your first image. To help remember the first image, I always picture whatever it is coming out of my mouth, which usually helps to make the image very memorable.

For example, imagine you're playing a game in which the sequence goes: RGBRYYGBBYRR...

Here's how you would picture this at each step? Like this:

1: Simply remember "Red"
2: RG="Rug", so you imagine a big long rug coming out of your mouth.
3: "Mouth, Rug, Blue"
4: "Mouth, Rug, Bear" (BR=Bear). At this step, you're picturing your mouth, out of which comes a big rug, which unrolls to reveal a bear.
5: "Mouth, Rug, Bear, Yellow" (Yellow Bear?)
6: "Mouth, Rug, Bear, Yo-yo" Hmm, the bear goes off to play with a yo-yo, maybe?
7: "Mouth, Rug, Bear, Yo-yo, Green"
8: "Mouth, Rug, Bear, Yo-yo, Goblin"
9: "Mouth, Rug, Bear, Yo-yo, Goblin, Blue"
10: "Mouth, Rug, Bear, Yo-yo, Goblin, Boy"
11: "Mouth, Rug, Bear, Yo-yo, Goblin, Boy, Red"
12: "Mouth, Rug, Bear, Yo-yo, Goblin, Boy, Railroad"

As you can see, at each of the odd steps, you simply use the color as a modifier, until you move on to the next step and get the full picture.

Also, you can start to see the true beauty of this mnemonic system. Even though memorizing our example list only required 6 words (not including "mouth", which didn't represent a color pair), it easily brings to mind a 12-light sequence! If you've practiced the Link system up to 15 words, a sequence of 30 lights should pose no challenge with some practice.

With a little work, you could adapt this to Simon2, or even the more tactile Simon Stix.

Now, go back to that Flash version of Simon, and see if you don't start scoring better.

Sorry, but it can still drive you mad. No technique has been discovered to stop that.

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3 Response to Remember Simon? You will!

Neil H
11:25 PM

I prefer the journey method for Simon, just using items of matching colours along the way: apples, lemons, green plants, water, etc.
The first and only time I played it since learning the system, I quit after 40 steps, fearing brain damage.:)

This system also allowed me to score 21772 on the World Memory Test the second time I tried it.

Thanks for the great links and info.

6:36 AM

You went all the way to brain damage? That's why I suggest merely stopping at madness in the article.

Your Journey method suggestion is excellent! It does help avoid that weird odd/even stepping in the above method.

12:49 AM

There was also produced an electric version which would give you a powerful shock when you go the answer wrong.

There is no evidence that this would improve your memory but....