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Operation Game

Updated on August 2, 2012

The classic game of Operation

Invented in 1965 by John Spinello, Operation is a battery-operated game that tests players' hand-eye coordination. Operation isn't a game board. It is basically an "operating table" with a picture of Sam, the patient. The basis of the game is to remove 'ailments' from the Sam's body without setting off the buzzer. The ailments are literal meaning of real medical terms which adds a sense of humor to the game. Operation will always stand out because it is like bringing an old-fashioned carnival game home. The only thing missing is the cotton candy.

Operation Gameplay

Playing Operation

Operation has two sets of cards: Doctor and Specialist cards. Players are dealt Specialist cards before the start of the game but they take turns choosing Doctor cards during gameplay. Doctor cards offer a cash payment for removing a particular ailment, using a pair of tweezers connected with wire to the board. Successful removal of an ailment is rewarded with the cash amount listed on the card. However, if the tweezers touch the metal edge of the opening during the attempt (closing the circuit), a buzzer sounds, the patient's nose lights up red, and the player loses their turn. After a lost turn, the player holding the Specialist card for that specific ailment can try to retrieve the piece for double the fee if they succeed.

The winner is the player with the most money after all the pieces have been extracted. The game has a certain degree of difficulty for players with shaky hands. Good concentration is key to winning this game.

Operation Game - By Hasbro

Surely countless medical careers have been launched because of this humorous game. The Operation game board features Sam the patient, lying atop a red plastic "operating table" with 12 body cavities exposed. Players perform highly skilled procedures with a pair of tweezers such as removing a broken heart or butterflies in the stomach. This kind of surgery requires a steady hand! Doctors must remove the offending body part without touching the metal lining of the cavity. Touch the metal edge, and you'll set off the buzzer and make Sam's nose light up. Then the designated Specialist steps in--for double the fee! If you're playing solo, try performing all 12 operations without getting zapped. Two AA batteries are required. Operation is for one or more players. --Elizabeth Ward

Sam's Ailments - A list of ailments in the Operation game

  • Adam's Apple - 100 points The Adam's apple is a colloquial term referring to the thyroid cartilage surrounding the larynx that becomes more visually prominent during puberty.
  • Broken Heart - 100 points A heart shape with a crack through it on the right side of the chest. The phrase "broken heart" refers to an emotional feeling in which someone is very sad for some reason.
  • Wrenched Ankle - 100 points a wrench in the right ankle.
  • Butterflies in the Stomach - 100 points a large butterfly in the middle of the torso. The name comes from the feeling in the stomach when nervous or afraid.
  • Spare Ribs - 150 points two ribs fused together as one piece. "Spare Ribs" are a variety of meat.
  • Water on the Knee - 150 points a pail of water in the knee. Colloquialism for fluid accumulation around the knee joint.
  • Funny Bone - 200 points a play on the anatomical name for the upper arm bone (the humerus), and a reference to the colloquial name of the ulnar nerve.
  • Charley Horse - 200 points a small horse resting near the hip joint. A play on the real charley horse, which is a sudden cramp in the leg or foot, that can be cured with massage or stretching.
  • Writer's Cramp - 200 points a pencil in the forearm. Refers to the real writer's cramp which is a soreness in the wrist, and can be cured resting it.
  • The Ankle Bone Connected to the Knee Bone - 200 points This is not a plastic piece, but rather a rubber band that must be stretched between two pegs at the left ankle and knee.
  • Wish Bone - 300 points located on the left side of the chest. A "wish bone" is a chicken bone which is traditionally used by two people to make a wish on.
  • Bread Basket - 1000 points a slang word for the stomach. It is a very small slice of bread, with only a small notch taken out of the top for grip.

Operation Rescue Unit

Modern medicine has made many advances over the past years--and so has the Milton Bradley game of Operation. This updated version of the classic game still requires the skills of manual dexterity, mental concentration, and calm under pressure as you remove the ailments from the patient, Cavity Sam. But the new Operation Rescue Kit features four different game variations and a more advanced electronic system for even more excitement. Intended for ages six and up, Operation Rescue Kit allows each of the two to four players to set his or her own skill level for each game, which helps to level the playing field and make it a great game for all ages.

In 2004, Hasbro debuted the newest ailment, Brain Freeze, which was selected by consumers in a contest held during 2003.

Toy Story 3 Operation - Operate on Buzz Lightyear!

Buzz Lightyear needs some serious repair work. He's got a battered blaster, toasted turbo boosters, galactic acid, crystallic confusion and a host of other ailments. Do you have the skill to fix Woody's friend and send off to infinity and beyond? Find out with Operation - Toy Story 3 Edition. Be careful not to set off Buzz's buzzer or you'll go home with zero!

Operation Carabiner Travel Game Keychain - Take your operation game with you!

Keep those hands steady! Gaming on the go! Makes a great gift! This Operation Game Carabiner is loads of portable fun! Clip it on your keyring, bag, pantsanywhere you'd like to enjoy all the fun of Operation! Great for doctors - aspiring or imaginary! Measures about 4-inches tall x 2-inches wide x 1-inch long.

Playing Operation - Operation commercials and gameplay

Licensed Character Operation Games - The newest versions of Operation

Operation Spongebob Edition
Operation Spongebob Edition

SpongeBob's trapped in Plankton's lab, with 12 ailments designed to make him blab! Can you help your Bikini Bottom buddy keep the Krabby Patty recipe a secret' Perform delicate undersea surgery on his Barnacle Brain, Clammy Hands and Patty Pleasure Center without setting off the buzzer. The surgeon with the steadiest hands earns top pay and saves the day.

Operation Game Shrek Edition
Operation Game Shrek Edition

Poor Shrek is sick, so you better operate quick! Use forceps to remove his comical ailments: Ear Wax, Toe Jam, Onion Breath, Humongous Fungus, Pain in the Butt, and many more! But be careful, or you'll hear him buzz while his nose glows!

Operation Spiderman 3
Operation Spiderman 3

Spider-Man is now on the Operation table. Use all your skill and coordination to remove Spidey's ailments with the tweezers -- without setting off the buzzer and making his eyes light up.

Operation Iron Man 2 Edition
Operation Iron Man 2 Edition

Iron Man is in trouble! He's got a hammered head, a battered battery, fuzzy fiber optics, a rusted underbelly and more mechanical malfunctions. Are you the super surgeon that has the steady hands and nerves of steel needed to fix our hero? Find out with Operation - Iron Man 2 Edition.


Leave you comments below.

Have you ever played Operation? - Tell me all about it!

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    • cinstress profile image

      cinstress 6 years ago

      we have the SpongeBob version

      I had the original as a kid

      fun stuff!

    • JanieceTobey profile image

      JanieceTobey 7 years ago

      We have one version of Operation (the original), but I never knew there were other versions too! Cool page!