6 and up
1 or more
< 2 minutes
Jenga is a game of physical skill created by Leslie Scott, and currently marketed by Parker Brothers, a division of Hasbro. Players take turns removing one block at a time from a tower constructed of 54 blocks. Each block removed is then placed on top of the tower, creating a progressively taller structure.
The name jenga is derived from a Swahili word meaning "build".
Jenga is played with 54 wooden blocks. Each block is three times longer than its width, and one fifth as thick as its length 1.5 cm × 2.5 cm × 7.5 cm (0.59 in × 0.98 in × 2.95 in). Blocks have small, random variations from these dimensions as to create imperfections in the stacking process and providing additional challenge to the game. To set up the game, the included loading tray is used to stack the initial tower which has eighteen levels of three blocks placed adjacent to one another along their long side and at right angles to the previous level (so, for example, if the blocks in the first level lie lengthwise north-south, the second-level blocks will lie east-west).
Once the tower is built, the person who built the tower gets the first move. Moving in Jenga consists of taking one and only one block from any level (except the one below the incomplete top level) of the tower, and placing it on the topmost level to complete it. Only one hand should be used at a time when taking blocks from the tower. Blocks may be bumped to find a loose block that will not disturb the rest of the tower. Any block that is moved out of place must be returned to its original location before removing another block. The turn ends when the next person to move touches the tower or after ten seconds, whichever occurs first.
The game ends when the tower falls, or if any piece falls from the tower other than the piece being knocked out to move to the top. The winner is the last person to successfully remove and place a block.
Jenga was created by Leslie Scott, the co-founder of Oxford Games Ltd, based on a game that evolved within her family in the early 1970s using children's wood building blocks the family purchased from a sawmill in Takoradi, Ghana. A British national, Scott was born in East Africa, where she was raised speaking English and Swahili, before moving to live in Ghana, West Africa. Scott launched the game she named and trademarked as "Jenga" at the London Toy Fair in January 1983 and sold it through her own company, Leslie Scott Associates. The blocks of the first sets of Jenga were manufactured for Scott by the Camphill Village Trust in Botton, Yorkshire. The V&A Museum of Childhood has exhibited one of the original sets of Jenga since 1982.
In 1984, Robert Grebler, an entrepreneur from California who was the brother of a close friend of Scott, contacted her and expressed interest in importing and distributing Jenga in Canada. In April 1985, Grebler acquired from Scott the exclusive rights to Jenga for the United States and Canada, and then in October that year, Scott assigned the worldwide rights in Jenga to Grebler, which he in turn assigned to Pokonobe Associates. Convinced of Jenga's potential, Grebler had invited two cousins to form Pokonobe Associates with him in 1985 to increase distribution of Jenga. Pokonobe then licensed Irwin Toy to sell Jenga in Canada and to be master licensees worldwide. Irwin Toy licensed Jenga to Schaper in the United States and when that company was bought by Hasbro, Jenga was launched under the Milton Bradley banner. Eventually, Hasbro became licensee in most countries around the world.
Today, according to Leslie Scott, over 50 million Jenga games, equivalent to more than 2.7 billion Jenga blocks, have been sold worldwide.
The packaging copy of one edition of the Jenga game claims that Robert Grebler may have built the tallest Jenga tower ever at 40 2⁄3 levels. Grebler built the tower in 1985 while playing with an original Jenga set produced by Leslie Scott in the early 1980s.
Throw 'n Go Jenga is a variant originally marketed by Hasbro. It consists of blocks that are various colors plus a six-sided die.
Jenga Truth or Dare is an adult variation of Jenga also marketed by Hasbro. This version looks like regular Jenga except there are three colors of blocks instead of just the natural color of Jenga.
Jenga Xtreme uses parallelogram-shaped blocks that can create some interesting leaning towers.
Casino Jenga: Las Vegas Edition employs a roulette-style game play, featuring a felt game board, betting chips, and additional rules.
In addition, there have been a number of collector edition Jenga games, featuring the colors and logos of the Boston Red Sox, Oakland Raiders, New York Yankees, and John Deere, among others. Hello Kitty Jenga, Transformers Jenga, Tarzan Jenga, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas Jenga, and Donkey Kong Jenga are some of the licensed variations of Jenga.
Jenga XXL and Jenga Giant are licensed giant Jenga games manufactured and distributed by Art's Ideas. There are Jenga Giant variations which can reach 5 feet (150 cm) or higher in play. Jenga XXL starts at over 4 feet (1.2 m) high and can reach 8 feet (2.4 m) or higher in play. Rules are the same as in classic Jenga, except players can use two hands to move the eighteen-inch long blocks.
Jenga World Tour for Nintendo Wii and DS was released by Atari on December 7, 2007. A new version of the Jenga game for the Nintendo Wii is available from Electronic Arts as part of Hasbro's Family Game Night 2 offering.
An iOS version exists, released in late 2010 by NaturalMotion Games. NaturalMotion has also released versions for Android phones and Mac computers.