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Simon Says (or Simple Simon Says) is a child's game for 3 or more players where 1 player takes the role of "Simon" and issues instructions (usually physical actions such as "jump in the air" or "stick out your tongue") to the other players, which should only be followed if prefaced with the phrase "Simon says", for example, "Simon says, jump in the air". Players are eliminated from the game by either following instructions that are not immediately preceded by the phrase, or by failing to follow an instruction which does include the phrase "Simon says". It is the ability to distinguish between valid and invalid commands, rather than physical ability, that usually matters in the game; in most cases, the action just needs to be attempted.
The object for the player acting as Simon is to get all the other players out as quickly as possible; the winner of the game is usually the last player who has successfully followed all of the given commands. Occasionally however, 2 or more of the last players may all be eliminated by following a command without "Simon Says", thus resulting in Simon winning the game.
The game is well embedded in popular culture, with numerous references in films, music and literature.
The tradition behind the use of 'Simon' as the controller of the game may trace back to the year 1264, when at the Battle of Lewes, Simon de Montfort captured King Henry III and his son, the future King Edward I. For the next year, any order Henry III gave could have been countermanded by de Montfort, until his defeat at the Battle of Evesham. It is also possible that the name has no such meaning, and Simon derives simply from the alliterative effect.
This game has translated across multiple cultures from seemingly common routes and some international versions also use the name Simon such as:
A version also exists in India and Hungary where an analogy to what can fly and what cannot is emphasized instead of Simon saying or not, i.e. "Chidiya ud" (Hindi) which translates to Bird fly. The term 'bird' can then be replaced with a thing that cannot fly. This game is usually played more with gestures than actual jumping.
In a Swedish version, Gör si, gör så ("Do this, do thus"), the leader says either "do this" or "do thus" while performing an action. For failing to follow the correct command, "do this", or following the wrong command, "do thus", a child must sit down until a new leader is chosen.
A command starting with "Simon says" means the players must obey that command. A command without the beginning "Simon says" means do not do this action. Anyone who breaks one of these two rules is eliminated from the remainder of the game. Often, anyone who speaks is also eliminated.
There can be very complex and difficult command chains, such as "Simon says: Arms up. Simon says: Arms down. Arms up." Anyone ending with their arms up is eliminated, because you cannot obey a command that doesn't begin with "Simon says".
In New Zealand a variation on the instruction phrases is used. "Simon says" is said once at the start of a series of instructions, and an action along with the phrase "do this" must be obeyed while an action with the phrase "do that" must not be obeyed. Obeying a "do that" command or not obeying a "do this" command will eliminate a player.
It is considered cheating to give impossible commands ("Simon says, lift both of your legs up and keep them there!") or phrase the commands in such a way that the other player has no option but to 'go out' ("Simon says, jump up. Come down."). However, at least in some versions, it is allowed for Simon to eliminate players by asking them to do something seemingly unrelated to the game (example: "Anyone remaining join me up here.").