Jump to content

Twister (game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
1966 original cover art
Winning Moves Games USA
PublicationDecember 14, 1966; 57 years ago (1966-12-14)
GenresPhysical skill game
Age range6+

Twister is a game of physical skill produced by Milton Bradley Company and Winning Moves Games USA. It is played on a large plastic mat that is spread on the floor or ground. The mat has four rows of six large colored circles on it with a different color in each row: red, yellow, green and blue. A spinner tells players where they have to place their hand or foot. The game promotes itself as "the game that ties you up in knots".


A game of Twister

A spinner is attached to a square board and is used to determine where the player has to put their hand or foot. The spinner is divided into four labeled sections: left foot, right foot, left hand, and right hand. Each of those four sections are divided into the four colors (red, yellow, green, and blue). After spinning, the combination is called (for example: "right hand yellow") and players must move their matching hand or foot to a circle of the correct color.

In a two-player game, no two people can have a hand or foot on the same circle; the rules are different for more players. Owing to the scarcity of colored circles, players will often be required to put themselves in unlikely or precarious positions, eventually causing someone to fall. A person is eliminated when they fall or when their elbow or knee touches the mat.


Twister competition in 1966

In 1964, Reyn Guyer Sr. owned and managed a design company which made in-store displays for Fortune 500 companies.[2]

Charles Foley was a respected and successful toy designer for Lakeside Industries in Minneapolis and answered an ad for an experienced toy designer by Reynolds Guyer Sr. of Guyer Company.[2] Foley interviewed with Reyn Guyer Sr. and his son, Reyn, who were interested in product development within the toy business. After interviewing Foley, Guyer and his son discussed the possibility of starting a small division of the company in product development. His father agreed, for a short term, to support his son's idea for product development, and hired Foley, who negotiated a royalty agreement with Guyer Company for all games and toy items designed by Foley.[2] Guyer Company agreed, and officially hired Foley.[2] Foley hired Neil Rabens,[3] an accomplished product design artist with an art degree from the Minneapolis School of Art and Design.

The game ideas ranged from small kids' games to word games for adults. Foley had an idea for utilizing people as game pieces as part of the game idea, "a party game". Rabens had the idea to utilize a colored mat, allowing people to interact with each other, in a game idea he had developed while a student in design school. Foley saw the idea and developed the concept for having the colored dots line up in rows, and, with a spinner, created the idea for calling out players' hands and feet to the colored dots called out from the spinner. This would create a tangled-up situation between two people, and the one that falls first would lose.

With the support of Reyn Guyer Sr., Charles Foley and Neil Rabens submitted, on 14 April 1966, and were granted on 8 July 1969, US Pat# 3,454,279,[4] for what was originally called "Pretzel". Foley, with his extensive experience in the toy industry, called on his good friend, Mel Taft, Sr. V.P. for Milton Bradley in 1966, for a product idea presentation. Milton Bradley embraced the idea for the "Pretzel" game but renamed the game "Twister".[5][6][7]

Twister became a major success when actress Eva Gabor played it with Johnny Carson on television's The Tonight Show on May 3, 1966.[8][9] However, in its success, it was also controversial. The company that produced it, Milton Bradley, was accused by its competitors of selling "sex in a box".[10] That accusation is speculated to be because it was the first popular American game to use human bodies as playing pieces.[11]

In 1966, Twister was licensed to Nintendo—then a toy and board game company—for the Japanese market, where it was released as Twister Game.[1]

In 1984, Hasbro acquired the Milton Bradley Company, becoming Twister's parent company.[12] The Reyn Guyer Creative Group continues to work closely with Hasbro to develop and market new additions to the line of Twister products.

Co-inventor Charles Foley died on July 1, 2013, at the age of 82.[13]


Pop singer Britney Spears promoting an exclusive version of the game in 2012[14]

Twister, much like the hula hoop, was one of the many toy fad phenomena that came about in the second half of the 20th century. Microsoft Encarta labeled Twister as being an "industry phenomenon" that "captures the public's imagination, and sells in the millions".[15] Being one of the earliest toy fads and a "national craze for a short time",[15] Twister was able to bring all age groups together, whether children or adults.

Buzz and Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket cheerleaders playing Twister using the floor of Alexander Memorial Coliseum


There are publicly available instructions on how to alter a Twister game to make it accessible to color-blind individuals[16] and to completely blind individuals.[17]

Blindfolded Twister is an accessible variant where there are four different tactile symbols on the mat, and the players are blindfolded and have to find a circle with the named symbol by feeling.


In 1967, a year after its release, 3 million Twister games were sold.[18]

Games magazine included Twister in their "Top 100 Games of 1980", praising it as being "nearly as well known as Spin the Bottle, and ten times more enjoyable" while noting that it is "Best played on a soft surface with people you'd like to know better."[19]

Games magazine included Twister in their "Top 100 Games of 1981", noting that "To become a grandmaster at Twister, the first requirement is agility" and that "Like any good party game, Twister can be fun or it can be humiliating."[20]

Games magazine included Twister in their "Top 100 Games of 1982", noting that players can "Become a human pretzel in this popular party game for people who don't mind getting better acquainted" but cautioned to "watch the person with the spinner—the temptation to cheat and call the most difficult move is usually irresistible".[21]



  1. ^ a b "Nintendo Twister Game". 9 April 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "#001 Reyn Guyer: The Man Who Invented Twister & Nerf". 13 October 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2023 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ "Twister inventor shares story of 'sex in a box'". USA Today. Retrieved 15 December 2022 – via YouTube.
  4. ^ "Apparatus for playing a game wherein the players constitute the game pieces".
  5. ^ "Original 1966 Twister Game Commercial". YouTube.
  6. ^ Museum of Classic Chicago Television. "Twister by Milton Bradley (Commercial, 1981)". YouTube.
  7. ^ British Pathé. "Out Takes / Cuts From Cp 615 - Outward Bound Police, The Twister And Snake Man (1966)". YouTube. Retrieved 15 December 2022. Cuts (rushes, out takes) for stories in Colour Pictorial - CP 615. The original stories are also on Pathe Master tape *PM0383*. Cuts for story THE TWISTER in CP 615. Similar footage to the cut story; couples are seen playing Twister at Butlin's in Clacton; they get into various awkward positions.
  8. ^ "The Twister History". www.math.uni-bielefeld.de. Retrieved 2024-01-09.
  9. ^ "How Johnny Carson Saved Twister". HISTORY. 2023-06-01. Retrieved 2024-01-09.
  10. ^ Polizzi, Rick, and Fred Schaefer. Spin Again: Board Games from the Fifties and Sixties. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1991. 116-117.
  11. ^ Asakawa, Gil and Rucker, Leland. The Toy Book. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. 178-179.
  12. ^ "Milton Bradley". playgroundprofessionals.com. Archived from the original on 2014-09-04.
  13. ^ "Twister inventor dies aged 82". The Guardian. 12 July 2013.
  14. ^ Catarinella, Alex (2012-04-12). "Britney Spears Looks Amazing In $20,000 Bra". MTV. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  15. ^ a b "Toys - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  16. ^ Amanda Elizabeth Hatch (4 December 2008). "Twister: New and Improved: Making the game accessible to all" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 13 December 2009. So, how do you make the game 'color-blind friendly'?
  17. ^ Loretta White (Fall 2008). "How to Adapt Milton Bradley's "Twister" Game". Future Reflections 27 (4). National Federation for the Blind. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
  18. ^ "How Toys Changed After World War II". HISTORY. 2022-11-03. Retrieved 2024-01-09.
  19. ^ "Top 100 Games of 1980". Games. No. 20. November–December 1980. p. 57.
  20. ^ "Top 100 Games of 1981". Games. No. 26. November–December 1981. p. 56.
  21. ^ Schmittberger, R. Wayne, ed. (November 1982). "The Top 100 Games 1982". Games. No. 33. p. 51.

External links[edit]