The History of the Game Twister

Written by mary mcnally
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Over 65 million people have played the game of Twister as of 2010. "The game that ties you up in knots" was introduced in the 1960s and became a popular party game for people of all ages. Twister kicked off development of a slew of games where the players acted as their own game pieces, paving the way for a new popular culture trend that still exists in 2010.

Game Development

Toy inventor Reyn Guyer was looking for an advertising gimmick to promote shoe polish at his Dad's advertising business when he came up with the original Twister concept. The first version was called King Footsie, and players acted as the game pieces by moving around on a coloured mat. 3M rejected the game idea, but Guyer then hired game designers Charles F. Foley and Neil Rabens to develop it more. The basic concept kept the coloured mat, and players had to place a hand or foot on the closest circle to them that corresponded with a colour determined by a dial. Milton Bradley released Twister in 1966. After the game was a hit, Guyer tried to take credit for the finished game concept, but in 1969 Foley and Rabens were awarded the patent.

Twister Critics

Author Tim Walsh states in his book, "Timeless Toys" that in 1965, it still was not socially acceptable to be so physically close to people, especially people of the opposite sex. The sexual connotations of the game were not lost on critics at Milton Bradley or other game companies. Some retailers, including department store giant Sears, would not even sell Twister. Sales were so low in its first few months that Guyer said Milton Bradley was going to cancel the game. It was saved only because the public relations firm the company hired to promote it didn't get word of the cancellation and had pushed it to "The Tonight Show."

The Carson show

The May 3, 1966 episode of "Tonight Show" had host Johnny Carson and guest Eva Gabor sprawled on a Twister mat, desperately trying to keep their balance. The public was hooked. The game went from being cancelled to selling more than 3 million copies in that first year.

Pop Culture

Twister became so popular that it started showing up in commercials to promote other products such as soap made by Mansanto. The game was shown up on many TV episodes and members of Nirvana and the Smashing Pumpkins once tried to play it for an MTV show. Hasbro, which took over Milton Bradley in the 1980s, still produces Twister mats in 2010. The company has also released several different official versions like Twister Dance, Twister Hopscotch and even Twister Dodgeball.

Fun Fact

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst set a world Twister playing record in 1987. Twister mats were laid out to form a one huge Twister mat, and 4,160 students played in one game.

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