Sex Sells (even games!)

June 16, 2016

I was stumbling through vintage game art designs(an enjoyable few minutes, if you can find the time) and was a little surprised by what I saw for Twister. Seen here:

It's no shock to see people having a good time--smiles, guffaws and smart looking threads always promote a product well. But there's one thing conspicuously missing for a game that purports to be appropriate for ages 8 to adult--the children! Where are all the children? Without kids, the scene on the cover of Twister looks like a swingers party with a bespectacled fifth wheel. (Maybe he's the full-time spinner).

Beyond that, and to remove any doubt of the game-makers intentions, the box in the upper right corner advises that this is "a stocking feet game". That means before you even start, you have to remove an article of clothing. Surely "Strip Twister" was just a logical progression from here. And think about it, the late 60s was a pretty exploratory time for sexual norms in America. Twister may as well have been a welcome kit to the world of polyamorous relationships. 

 

Okay, I'm obviously leaning further into this theory than I really believe, but all of these allegations are actually pretty well-supported by history. In 1965-66, Sears refused to stock the game on their shelves because they did not approve of the suggestive nature of its artwork. In fact, Milton Bradley was struggling to find anyone who would sell their new game night party staple. They were about to throw in the towel, cancel production and move on when a small miracle happened. Someone in the publicity department had spent some of their allowance to get a little product placement on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. An upcoming guest of his happened to be Eva Gabor. Well wouldn't you know it, Johnny Carson(not exactly known as a champion of monogamy) chose that night to try out this new game on air.

 

 Even with Johnny deliberately disobeying the first rule of Twister by leaving his shoes on, the game was a hit. As the two stars became entangled, all the other stars seemed to align for Milton Bradley and the game's inventors. With every brush of sleeve against shoulder and pant leg along dress, America got all hot and bothered. Rescued from certain death and complete obscurity, Twister became a runaway success. 

Since then, the artwork has changed a little. First, our lonely full-time spinner got hooked up with contact lenses and a date:

 And now, silhouettes representing all backgrounds, ethnicities and sexual proclivities are invited to participate:

 We may never know the true intentions of those guys who created Twister. But we do know that "the game that ties you up in knots" has often times been your best chance to get a little closer to the people around you. And we can't argue with that.

 

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