Twister (game)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
1966 Twister Cover.jpg
1966 original cover art
Winning Moves Games USA
PublicationDecember 14, 1966; 55 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 six rows of 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.

History and analysis[edit]

Twister competition in 1966

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

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. 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. Guyer Company agreed, and officially hired Foley. Foley hired Neil Rabens, 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 for patents (US Pat# 3,454,279) and trademark rights 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".

Twister became a success when actress Eva Gabor played it with Johnny Carson on television's The Tonight Show on May 3, 1966.[2][3] 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".[4] That accusation is speculated to be because it was the first popular American game to use human bodies as playing pieces.[5]

In 1966, Twister was licensed to Nintendo 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.[6] 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.[7]


Pop singer Britney Spears promoting an exclusive version of the game in 2012[8]

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 labels Twister as being an "industry phenomenon" that "captures the public's imagination, and sells in the millions".[9] Being one of the earliest toy fads and a "national craze for a short time,"[9] Twister was a game that was able to bring all age groups together, whether children or adults. Twister, being both globally spread and highly popular, is unlike other games of its stature in the sense that it is accepted by all social classes. In an article by Peterson and Simkus, they state, "While the evidence of the first half of this century suggests strong links between social status and cultural taste, there is growing evidence that there is no longer a one-to-one correspondence between taste and status group membership in advanced postindustrial societies like the United States."[10]


Since its release, many active participants have tried and succeeded in setting records for the most contestants in a game, and the largest combined amount of Twister game mats. The World's Largest Twister Mat was put together on June 18, 2010, in Belchertown, MA on the Belchertown High School football field. Over 2500 students and staff at the Belchertown School District participated in the event. It consisted of 1008 Twister mats donated by Hasbro and measured 244.7 feet X 99.10 feet for 24,156 square feet (2,244.2 m2). The purpose of the record breaking Twister Mat was to kick off a fundraising drive for Jessica's Boundless Playground.[11]

The previous record, as cited by the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest game of Twister included 4,699 square feet (436.6 m2) of mats that were combined. Prior to that, the largest game was played in the Netherlands in April 2005 with 2,453 square feet (227.9 m2) of mats. The record for the largest number of contestants in a game of Twister was once bestowed in 1987 with 4,160 contestants tangling themselves at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. However, this 1987 Amherst claim was later disqualified upon evidence of officiating inconsistencies. As a result, the category of "Most Contestants" was temporarily banned from the Guinness Book.

Robert Bucci, a determined Engineering student at Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), successfully entreated Guinness World Records to reinstate the category in 1992 by providing a comprehensively documented event plan prior to their subsequent world record setting event during the 1992 S AA/SF National Convention at Stone Mountain, Georgia.

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[12] and to completely blind individuals.[13]

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.



  1. ^ a b "Nintendo Twister Game". 9 April 2012.
  2. ^ "Who Invented Twister?", The Twister Homepage.
  3. ^ Twister History,
  4. ^ Polizzi, Rick, and Fred Schaefer. Spin Again, Board Games From the Fifties and Sixties. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1991. 116-117.
  5. ^ Asakawa, Gil and Rucker, Leland. The Toy Book. New York City: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. 178-179.
  6. ^ "Milton Bradley". Archived from the original on 2014-09-04.
  7. ^ "Twister inventor dies aged 82". The Guardian. 12 July 2013.
  8. ^ Catarinella, Alex (2012-04-12). "Britney Spears Looks Amazing In $20,000 Bra". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved 2012-04-12.
  9. ^ a b "Toys - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  10. ^ Peterson, Simkus
  11. ^[better source needed]
  12. ^ 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'?
  13. ^ 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.

External links[edit]