Game Shows Wiki
Bill Cullen
Bob Hilton (Pilots/Sub)
Gene Wood (Series)
Pilots: 5/11/1982
Child's Play.jpg
CBS Daytime: 9/20/1982 – 9/16/1983
Mark Goodson Productions

"This is Justin, age 7; this is Elizabeth, age 7; this is Marcus, age 6; and this is Kate, age 6. These children and others like them will try to make you understand what they're talking about on Child's Play! And here's the host of Child's Play, Bill Cullen!"

"This is (insert children and ages). These children and others like them will try to make you understand what they're talking about on Child's Play! And here's the host of Child's Play, Bill Cullen!"

CHILD: "My name is (insert name). I'm in the (insert school grade), and I'm from (insert state)." ANNOUNCER: "You will meet (insert child's name) and these other children today, as we play the game of kids and definitions, Child's Play! And here's the star of Child's Play, Bill Cullen!"

Rest of Spiels: "Thank you all very much, and welcome to Child's Play, a game for grown-ups/where children interpret the words that grown-ups try to guess."

Child's Play was a game show where two contestants watched video clips of children trying to describe a word and then had to guess what it was for points.

Keep in mind that this should not to be confused with the popular 1980s horror movie franchise or the charity organization of the same name.



The main game was the same except with these following differences:

  • The bullseye in front of a player indicated that the player had only one guess at the word, and the player with two guesses was equipped with two candy sticks. The player with the bullseye had the advantage of deciding to take guess after hearing the definition or pass the guess to his/her opponent.
  • Four definitions were played instead of three in the series, and on the final definition, Bill gave the first letter of the word, and the definition became a toss-up for both players. Bill would also give the initial letter clue in Fast Play.
  • The first round played until one player reached three points; at which point the game shifted into the Fast Play round under the same perimeters minus the two point score.
  • The first player to score six points won the game.


Round 1[]

In the first round, a word was given to the viewers at home, and a video clip of a child defining that word was played. Any words that were too incriminating or the answer itself were censored.

Once the clip ended, the contestant had a chance to guess the word; a correct response earned one point. If he/she was incorrect, his/her opponent viewed a clip of another child defining the same word. If the opponent was wrong, control passed back to the first contestant, who saw one final clip (usually of a younger child, and the answer usually not that hard to guess by this point). If he/she was still wrong, Cullen announced the correct answer and no points were awarded.

The first round continued, with the contestants alternating control on words (originally the winner of the previous word played first on each new word), until the second commercial break.

Round 2: Fast Play[]

The second round was known as the "Fast Play" round. Both contestants were given the opportunity to guess what word the child was defining by hitting a buzzer to interrupt the video clip and guess the word. If the contestant was correct, he/she received two points; if incorrect, the rest of the clip was played and the opponent was given a chance to guess.

In the first week, correct answers in "Fast Play" were still worth one point. After the school bell rang the first time, correct answers were worth double, or two points. Also, upon stealing, the stealer would see the whole clip rather than starting from where it left off. This rule was discontinued in favor of the rules above.

When the school bell rang, the game was over and whoever was ahead in score was the winner. If there was a tie at the end of the game, a tie-breaking word would be played. If a contestant buzzed in with the right word, he/she won the game; as in regulation play, if he/she buzzed in with a wrong answer, the contestant was locked out, and his/her opponent got a chance to listen to the entire description of the same child, before taking a free guess.

The winner of the game won $500 and the right to play the bonus round.

Bonus Round[]

The bonus went through two formats in its season long run, but they both had the same time limit of 45 seconds and the same payoff of $5,000.

Format #1: Triple Play/The A-B-C Game[]

The winning contestant had 45 seconds (60 in the pilot) to guess six words correctly. Each word had three written definitions by three different children ("Child A," "Child B," and "Child C"). The contestant had to choose one of the three children, and after seeing the definition, supply a guess or chose another child. If, after seeing all three definitions, the contestant couldn't identify the word, he/she had to say "pass" to move on to another word.

Each correct guess was worth $100, while getting six before time expired won $5,000.


  • The modest running UK version (hosted by Michael Aspel) also used this bonus round format, but it was used as the second round of the main game.

Format #2: Turnabout[]

The second bonus game format was instituted April 25, 1983. Similar to the main round from Pyramid, five children who regularly appeared in the film clips were brought into the studio, and the contestant had to describe seven words to the children within the 45 second time limit. The contestant won $100 for each word that a child guessed correctly, and the children won the same amount collectively. Getting all seven words before time expired won $5,000, and the children won $1,000 collectively. As in the previous bonus round format, the contestant could pass on a word and come back to it if time permitted; however, if the contestant gave an illegal clue (such as giving away the word), the word in play was thrown out, and the contestant and children forfeit their shot at their respective grand prizes.


  • Another Goodson-Todman show that also had a bonus round called "Turnabout" was Get the Message
  • The short-lived Australian version (hosted by Jeff Philips) also used the Turnabout bonus round format as well.

Champions returned until they were defeated, had been on the show for five days, or exceeded the CBS winnings limit (at the time) of $25,000. Theoretically, a championship player could win no more than $27,500.


72px-TV-G icon svg.png


Score Productions


Mark Goodson


CBS Television City, Hollywood, CA


Dame la Pista – A short-lived, Spanish-language version hosted by Alessandra Rosaldo airing on TeleFutura in 2008.

International Versions[]

Here are a list of countries that did their version of Child's Play:

  • Australia
  • Germany – Dingsda (There)
  • Greece – Children Play
  • Indonesia – Kata Si Kecil (Little Child's Word), Celoteh Anak (Child's Says), Apa... Apa... Apa??(What... What... What?)
  • Netherlands – 't Is Kinderspel/Dinges (It's Child's Play/Dinges)
  • Russia – Mouths of Babes
  • Spain – Jeugo de ninos (Child's Game)
  • Sweden – Lekande Lätt (Playing Easily)
  • Ukraine – Einiki-Beniki
  • United Kingdom




Production Slate[]

Press Photos[]


This was the first Goodson-Todman show in which Mark Goodson produced the show solo. His partner, Bill Todman, passed away three years before. Thus, this was the first G-T show to close with "A Mark Goodson Television Production".

The following Monday after the cancellation of Child's Play, Press Your Luck with Peter Tomarken took its time slot. In addition, the show was originally going to be replace with another Goodson-produced game show Star Words hosted by Nipsey Russell but lost in the process.

On the short-lived game show Rock & a Hard Place one of the rounds was also called Child's Play.

Cancelled Game Version[]

A video game originally going to be released for the Atari 2600 by The Great Game Company in 1983, but due to The North American Video Game Crash of '83 plans for it were scrapped and it has never been made, nor released at the time.

Before They Were Stars[]

Lori Beth Denberg starred in one of the episodes in Child's Play long before her days at Nickelodeon.

Other stars who appeared on the show before they were famous included:

  • Breckin Meyer
  • Tara Reid
  • Devin Ratray (Buzz McCallister from Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York)
  • Jeff B. Cohen (Chunk from The Goonies (once called Jeff McMahon))
  • Michael Marona (Big Pete on The Adventures of Pete and Pete)
  • Anne-Marie Johnson (was a contestant)


The buzz-in sound was the same sound from Family Feud.

The wrong answer buzzer was used when time ran out to answer a question on Child's Play’s replacement, Press Your Luck.

The correct answer bell is the same one used on The Price is Right and was also used to signal spins being added to contestants' scores on the aforementioned Press Your Luck.


“If you like kids, you’ll love Child’s Play. We’ll see ya. Bye-bye!” - Bill Cullen

"This is Bob Hilton/Gene Wood speaking for Child's Play, a Mark Goodson Television Production!" - Bob Hilton/Gene Wood


Child's Play @ Game Show Utopia
Rules for Child's Play @
Josh Rebich's Child's Play Rule Sheet
Official Pearson site for Child's Play (via Internet Archive)