Introducing “The SIMPLER SIMON”, a fun game for seniors based on the original “Simon” 70’s game.

Simpler Simon

Simpler Simon

Aimed primarily at the elderly and people with cognitive challenges, the current version of the SIMPLER SIMON sports three basic games – “Follow Me” (simple and blink), “Memory Pairs”, and “Memory Sequence”.

Large tactile buttons, vibrant bright colours and playful melodies make this an engaging game for all ages.

Here, the SIMPLER SIMON basic “Memory Sequence” game is being played.

Based on feedback from field testing, the latest revision of the SIMPLER SIMON includes more rounded and textured (numbered) buttons, and baffling to reduce light bleed between adjacent buttons. Additional software changes have increased the range of tones used for the buttons, provided longer intervals between successive game plays, and added the “Memory Pair” game.

While drawing from the original SIMON game and some aspects of the game-play, the SIMPLER SIMON has been designed primarily for the elderly and those who are cognitively challenged.

Original Simon Game

Original Simon Game

The games of the SIMPLER SIMON are selected upon start-up by pressing the appropriately numbered button. The details of each game are as follows:

  1. Follow Me (simple)” game encourages the player to press the randomly illuminated button. In this  simplest version of the game, the button to be pressed remains illuminated until pressed
  2. Follow Me (flash)” is a slightly more challenging variant of the game as it just flashes the colour that is to be pressed.
  3. Memory Pairs” game shows a sequence of two random buttons, that encourages the user to press the correct buttons in the same sequence.
  4. Memory Sequence” game encourages the player to replay a random sequence of illuminated buttons. After each successful replay, the sequence is repeated and lengthened by one. This game repeats the sequence slowly allowing plenty of time for the user to see and hear each button of the sequence.

In all games, play is accompanied with a tone for each button and melodies for actions that include initial start-up; game selection, level start, level completion, and player error. The game to be played is selected after the power-up routine by pressing on one of the four numbered illuminated buttons.

Simpler Simon

Simpler Simon: with sound, light and tactile feedback is a fun game for all ages


During the development of the “Maze Game“, Shirley, a friend who is a recreation professional organizing activities and programs for seniors in long-term care – suggested that the game could be an interesting and engaging rehabilitation activity for the elderly to help in recovering and/or strengthening hand-eye coordination. This led to the development of the “AirMaze Game” that allowed the game to be played by people with limited motor skills.

One of Shirley’s specialties is in multi-sensory stimulation, aka Snoezelen. She invited me to visit the community centre in which she works and to see the setup of the Snozelen room. During the visit we brainstormed different ideas for games and activities that we could develop in an attempt to engage with some of her more challenged clients. And the idea for the SIMPER SIMON came from this discussion.

The shell of the SIMPER SIMON is constructed from HDPE (High Density PolyEthylene) machined (using my CNC machine) as a three-part circular casing, 30mm thick and 150mm diameter, that holds four large captive buttons. The 12mm thick top assembly has cutouts for the buttons, while the 6mm mid assembly holds a circular circuit board that houses four miniature push-buttons and three addressable LEDs for each switch, and a small speaker for the sound of the tones and melodies. The 12mm base assembly houses the Arduino Nano, and is pocketed to accommodate the wiring harness to the circuit board, a 5V buck-converter and a 5.5mm external power connection.

Simpler Simon

Simpler Simon: showing lower assembly with Arduino Nano and bottom of mid assembly with PCB

Simpler Simon

Simpler Simon: showing top assembly with buttons and mid assembly with PCB

Based on Shirley’s feedback, I have redesigned the upper assembly and buttons. The buttons are more rounded and have texture in the form of 1, 2, 3 and 4 dimples on the top surface. The upper assembly also includes light baffles to reduce light bleed between adjacent buttons.

Simpler Simon

Simpler Simon showing dimpled and rounded buttons

Simpler Simon

Simpler Simon showing top assembly with the additional light baffles and centre cutout for the miniature speaker.

Now, over to Shirley to continue to trial the game!


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