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What is the Game of Twister®?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
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  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2014
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Twister® is a physical board game released in 1966. Popularized by Johnny Carson and Eva Gabor, the game came under fierce criticism for potentially being sexual in nature. The basic idea of Twister® is hardly controversial, however, and has entertained the flexible and willing for more than 40 years.

Released in the 1960s by gaming giant Hasbro, the game consists of a large plastic mat with colored circles and a corresponding board with a spinner. The spinner determines which hand or foot is to be placed on which color circle: for example, a spin could produce a movement of left hand to blue. Although the game starts simply enough, the scarcity and placement of circles soon leads to serious contortion, particularly if there are several players. If a player falls or puts a hand or foot in the wrong place, they are disqualified.

The game did not catch on immediately, until Johnny Carson engaged in a game with Eva Gabor on The Tonight Show. Almost immediately, controversy over the new game broke out, with critics famously referring to the game as “Sex in a box.” According to the socially acceptable standards of 1960s America, co-ed Twister® games were certainly a bit risqué. Yet after The Tonight Show performance, sales of the game rocketed, making it one of the most popular party games of the decade.

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Since its heady beginnings, the game has endured shifts in popularity. Despite its time as a major fad in the 1960s, it faded from the scene somewhat as the novelty wore off. Occasionally since the height of its popularity, it has regained popularity, especially as a competition or record-breaking game. In 1987, students at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst set the new Guinness World Record for the greatest number of Twister® players, with 4,160 participants. The largest Twister® game in size took place in Illinois, featuring 200 joined game mats.

The game is popular around the world, with Twister® tournaments held regularly throughout Europe and Asia. Each year, Iceland and Greece hold numerous competitions, both on local and nationwide levels. Until the record was broken in Illinois in 2007, the Netherlands held the Guinness World Record for the largest game ever played. The simplicity of the rules is probably responsible for the global popularity of Twister®, in addition to the silly fun of crawling around on the ground and falling over.

Despite its somewhat questionable reputation, Twister® is a fun game that can be enjoyed by all ages. Still a popular game, it can be found at most toy stores, and is a great game for parties. Twister® is meant for two to four players, and can usually be purchased for between $15 and $20 US Dollars (USD).

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pastanaga
Post 3

@Ana1234 - I'd much rather have adults playing it than kids to be honest. I used it a couple of times at a play-group I was hosting and it was incredibly annoying because if any of the children was feuding with any of the others they would start complaining any time they were on the board together. "So-and-so is touching me!"

I always wanted to say, of course she's touching you! You're playing Twister!

I actually thought it had been invented in the 80's though. It does seem quite risque for adults in the 60's although I can see kids being encouraged to play it back then.

Ana1234
Post 2

@Mor - Oh they definitely do play it at university. If you've got men and women playing then it's a great excuse to try and get close to someone and have a bit of a laugh as well.

It isn't the greatest game to play with a lot of alcohol though. One of my most embarrassing memories was trying to play Twister at my cousin's party when I had just had my first few drinks. Everyone started laughing at one point and I thought they were laughing at something witty I had just said.

Turned out that it was because I had accidentally managed to slip out of the skimpy top I was wearing. I was mortified and my cousin never let me forget it either.

Needless to say, I never played Twister again.

Mor
Post 1

I actually think it's hilarious that they used to decry Twister as being a sexual game, because I really associate it with cheesy kids parties. I guess I could see some college students getting a bit drunk and playing it, but only really as a gimmick.

Maybe I just hung out with a different crowd. I think it would be really cute to watch a serious international tournament of Twister though.

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