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Twister is a game of physical skill produced by Milton Bradley Company and Winning Moves, that has been inducted into the American National Toy Hall of Fame. 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, blue and green. 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: right foot left foot, right hand and left hand. Each of those four sections is divided into the four colors (red, yellow, blue and green). 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. Due 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. There is no limit to how many can play at once, but more than four is a tight fit.


In 1964 Reyn Winsor Guyer and his father owned a design company that made in-store displays for Fortune 500 companies. While working on designing a promotion for his client, the S.C. Johnson Company, Reyn developed the idea


that a game could utilize people as playing pieces on a life-sized game board: a mat on the floor. His first attempt he called “Kings Footsie”, but when he showed it to the 3M Company, who had a line of up-scale board games, they rejected the idea.

Co-inventor Charles Foley was a salesman for a printing company calling on the Guyer Company's purchasing agent when he saw a model of Kings' Footsie on display in the office. Foley went to Reyn claiming he had some experience and connections in the toy business. Guyer and his father discussed the possibility of starting a small division of the company to explore the ‘people are the players' concept. His father agreed to take out a sizable bank loan to underwrite the idea. Guyer hired Foley and Chuck Rabens, Guyers artist friend, and the three men worked together to develop eight new game ideas for presentation. The game ideas ranged from small kids' games to word games for adults. When the three men were working with colored circles on the floor, Foley suggested they place them in rows by color, and Rabens suggested they use their hands and feet. A game they called PRETZEL took shape.


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

In 1964 Guyer and Foley took the games to Mel Taft, the Vice President of the Milton Bradley Co.. Mel immediately saw the possibilities in a line of games where the people were the players, and the game he chose to lead with was "Pretzel". When it was discovered that the name was not available, the Milton Bradley Co. chose "Twister".

In the fall of 1965, Reyn and Chuck took the game to the Milton Bradley Company in Springfield, MA where Mel Taft, the senior vice-president of R & D, chose PRETZEL as the best of the eight game ideas. Mel found there was a trademark problem, so he changed the game’s name to TWISTER, and Milton Bradley began to market Twister in 1966. It was the first game on store shelves that used players as the playing pieces. .

When the Milton Bradley Company found that several major retailers refused to stock the game, Mel called Reyn to tell him that they were cancelling their television advertising and pulling the product from the store shelves. What executives at Milton Bradley did not know was the public relations company Mel had hired had already been paid. So, he let the plan to have TWISTER played on the Tonight Show go forward.

On May 3, 1966 Johnny Carson, the host of the show, was enticed by the TWISTER mat and demonstrated the game along with the gorgeous Eva Gabor. The next morning there were 50 people standing in line to buy the game at Abercrombie & Fitch where a few games had not been returned. Three million TWISTER games were sold in the following year. Several fun spin-off games have followed over the years such as: TWISTER MOVES, TWISTER DANCE, TWISTER HOOPLA and many others.

In 1967 Twister was named the "Game of the Year". With this success, Guyer offered Foley and Raabens a chance to


run their new toy and game development division. However, they had already arranged to form their own company with an outside investor. Subsequently, they threatened to sue Guyer and his father. An out-of-court settlement in the form of 2.5% of Twister's gross profit for 3 years was arranged. When the patent was issued, Guyer's name was omitted because "people being the players'" was not one of the patent claim. Guyer remains the owner of the trademark.

On May 3, 2016, the Hasbro Company will begin the celebration of TWISTER’s 50th anniversary following Reyn Guyer’s introduction of his book, “RIGHT BRAIN RED”, which tells the whole tale of the game’s exciting beginnings.

In 1985 Hasbro acquired the Milton Bradley Company, becoming Twister's parent company. The Reyn Guyer Creative Group continues to work closely with Hasbro to develop and market new additions to the line of Twister products.

  • 2003 Hasbro adds Twister Moves to the line. With two and three CDs players are encouraged to listen to the music and occupy the colored circle that is called for in the lyrics. The product helps to double overall Twister sales to 2 million units by 2004.
  • 2006 Twister Dance is added. Players dance on small Twister mats to 40 different tunes.
  • 2007 Hasbro adds Twister Scram to the line. Players spin the spinner and run to different colored dot mats before all of them are taken.
  • 2008 Twister Hopscotch is added. In a variation of hopscotch, multi-colored rings are attached together. As one player spins the spinner, the rest of the players must do different actions on each different colored ring as they skip through them.
  • 2010 Twister Hoopla is added to the line. This version is very similar to the original Twister. The same gameplay is used, but miniature multi-colored hoops are used instead of the original dot mat.
  • 2012 Hasbro brings in Britney Spears to promote updated Twister Dance Rave.
  • 2013 Hasbro adds Twister Rave Skip-it Game

How to Play[]

Setting up the Game[]

  1. Spread the mat faceup on a flat surface, indoors or outdoors.
  2. Players take off their shoes and set them aside. If you're playing outdoors, you may want to anchor the mat corners with your shoes.
  3. Designate an extra person as the referee. The referee is not considered a player; during the game, the referee will spin the spinner, call out the moves, and monitor the game play.
  4. Position yourselves on the mat according to the number of players, as explained below.

For a 2-player game: Players face each other from opposite ends of the mat, near the word Twister. Place one foot on the yellow circle and the other foot on the blue circle closest to your end of the mat. Your opponent does the same on his or her end.

For a 3-player game: Two players face each other on opposite ends of the mat, near the word Twister. Each player


places one foot on the yellow circle and the other foot on the blue circle closest to his or her end of the mat. The third player faces the center from the red-circle side of the mat, placing one foot each on the two middle red circles.


The referee spins the spinner, then calls out the body part and the color that the arrow points to. For example, the referee may call out: "Right hand, red." All players, at the same time, must then try to follow the referee's directions as explained below.

  • Each player must try to place the called-out body part on a vacant circle of the called-out color. For [example, if the referee calls out "Right hand, red," each player must try to place a right hand on any vacant red circle.
  • If your called-out hand or foot is already on a circle of the called-out color, you must try to move it to another circle of the same color.
  • There can never be more than one hand or foot on any one circle. If two or more players reach for the same circle, the referee must decide which player got there first. The other player(s) must find another vacant circle of the same color.
  • Never remove your hand or foot from a circle unless you're directed to by the referee after a spin. Exception: You may lift a hand or foot to allow another hand or foot to pass by, as long as you announce it to the referee beforehand, and replace it on its circle immediately afterward.
  • If all 6 circles of a color are already covered, the referee must spin again until a different color can be called out.

Strategy: Try moving toward an opponent's portion of the mat, forcing the player to go over or under you to place a hand or foot!


Being Eliminated[]

Any player who falls, or touches the mat with an elbow or knee, is immediately out of the game. (If you feel that a new position is impossible, or will cause you to fall, you may elminiate yourself.)

In a 2-player game, the game ends and the remaining player wins. In a 3-player game, the remaining two players keep playing until one player is eliminated and the remaining player wins.

How to Win[]

The last player left in the game is the winner!

Team Play[]

For a 4-player game, form 2 teams of 2 players each. Teams face each other on opposite ends of the mat, standing side-by-side with each foot on a circle so that all 4 circles closest to the Twister name are covered.

Just as in a 2- or 3-player game, the referee spins the spinner and calls out a hand or foot and a color circle. Play as in the 2- or 3-player game, with this exception: members of the same team can cover the same circle with one hand or foot each.

As soon as a player falls or touches the mat with an elbow or knee, the player's team is eliminated and the other team is the winner.

2-Player Game with No Referee[]

If there are only 2 players and no referee, you can play without using the spinner. One player calls out the body part; the other player calls out the circle color. Players alternate turns calling out the body part first. Otherwise, game play is the same, with the last remaining player the winner.

Party Games[]

Round Robin: Form several 2-player teams. Each team, in turn, plays every other team. Players keep track of wins and losses. The team with the most wins wins!

Elimination Game: Form several 2-player teams. Play against each other, with losing teams dropping out. Winning teams play each other until only one winning team is left!


How to Play Twister

Links and References[]

BoardGameGeek Review