A Debate: Is Twister a Board Game?


I wish it were easier to find time these days to play the batch of board games sitting in a box in my living room from Board Game Exchange… There are at least half a dozen calling after me each time I walk by…But  planning a wedding (that happens in about a month, by the way) and everything that comes with it will do that to pre-existing routines. Soon I will get my life back! Then the games can begin..again!

In any case- while doing a Google search to find board games that I’ve played throughout my life, in hopes of discussing them here- I noticed one that caught my attention.. Twister. Fast forward a few moments and I have changed my search to “Is Twister a Board Game?”. As I expected, I’m not the first person to wonder this.

The definition of board game is “any game played on a board, especially one that involves the movement of pieces on the board such as chess or checkers.” With that in mind- how far of a stretch is it really to consider Twister one?

While the “board” may really in fact be a large plastic cloth that is put on the floor, it does function the same way a traditional game would require. It has six rows of large of different colored dots in each (red, green, blue and yellow). The moving pieces? Self explanatory really- but the player is the ‘life size’ moving piece! Many board games use die- well this game uses a spinner which helps determine which body part goes on what color dot. Eventually the player is forced into a ‘pretzel’ position- and the first person to fall loses… Needless to say the last person standing is the winner.

A fun little backstory to this game- it was initially referred to in 1964 as “Kings Footsie” upon conception. However the game would evolve throughout the following years with the help of the creators friends. Once the idea of people using their hands and feet to put themselves in awkward positions- the game was casually called PRETZEL.  Due to a trademark issue during the patent process the name was changed to Twister. Milton Bradley was set to release the game as one of it’s own until a negative reputation and brutal criticisms of the game began to arise – “sex in a box”. The fact that young men and women would be encouraged to take suggestive positions in close proximity- was too ‘modern’ for retailers. MB lost interest quickly and was prepared to cancel all future promotions of the game- with the exception of the Tonight Show in 1966- where the PR guy had already been paid. They went through with that final promotion and it became quite literally, an overnight success. Three million Twister games would go on to sell that following year. It was named ‘Game of the Year’ in 1967.

So why wouldn’t Twister qualify as a board game? It depends on how hardcore you are about specifics. Nowhere in the description of the game is it referred to one, but don’t we group ‘card games’ in with board games most of the time anyway? Why can we make an exception for the table as the board, but not the floor? There are rules, moving components- a winner and a loser. If you ask me there should be no debate- this is as close to a board game as it could possibly get!

This article was somewhat well timed as Twister just celebrated it’s 50th anniversary! Crazy!


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