A friend of mine would often ask me questions with the remark ”Explain it as if I am a five year old”. And the remark would be since he consider himself having that intelligence level when it came to things he new nothing about. So when he heard about me participating at the World Memory Championships back in 2004 he immediately asked me to explain how it actually worked. And of course as if he was a five year old…
I had to think hard to answer him and I don’t think I succeeded in making it simple. And that is a good thing, for ever since the question has haunted me – ”How do I explain for a five year old what we are doing”. Or better yet, how can I teach a five year old what we are doing and how to compete in memory without using a single word.
When my daughter turned five in 2007 I saw the perfect opportunity to start testing my idea that had begun to emerge in my head. I showed her how my new invention worked and training her at the same time. My test pilot was the five years old that my friend sought about. So five years later in 2009, just as I was organising the first Swedish Memory Championships and after a lot of thinking and a lot of testing I was ready not only for a simple answer, but also to train my friend if he would like so. As an added bonus I had also come up with a very simple yet powerful tool that shows any person what memory athletes do.
However one test pilot does not make a team. So I started testing the game on her cousin but from four years of age. Also on other friends kids. It was working just fine! By now I had a first version of my own game that the two developers from Bittra Britta named ”Zogaj”. It felt a bit awkward having a game named after one self – but they said the name sounded nice and not many in Sweden would know it is an Albanian family name. So the name staid.
In 20010 I felt confident the game works but needed to develop it. I wanted my own world of associations! In combination with an exhibition stand that I was working on for Universeum I ran across the multi talented Jacob Stålhammar who apparently was working at Minnesmottagningen at Sahlgrenska Akademin. The same institution that I was starting a corporation with to make the stand for Universeum. So Zogaj 2.0 was developed. For the exhebition Jacob came up with the brilliant idea of making it as an app for iPad and iPhone. So it became one of the fist Swedish made iPad apps!
With the Zogaj 2.0 game my daughter made it all the way to the World Memory Championships 2013. Amongst other things she memorized 150 binary digit in correct order by using the 30 specially designed pictures in the game! Not bad for an 11 year old.
So she was not five when she competed but when she started her journey. However the Zogaj game shows that a five years old can do what memory athletes are doing. It is basically just taking full control over how the brain works when it naturally creates memorizing all the time.
At the World Memory Championships 2013 Team Sweden consisted of 6 memory athletes. And how did it go? Well… We got silver as a team and our best is the best of the best! Jonas von Essen showed his talent by wining the whole thing! World memory champion – how about that.