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Rock, Paper, Scissors

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Rock, Paper, Scissors

"Roshambo" redirects here. For other uses, see Rochambeau (disambiguation).
For the album by Noah23, see Rock Paper Scissors (album). For the 2012 film, see Rock, Paper, Scissors (film).
Rock-paper-scissors
A chart showing how the three game elements interact.
Genre(s) Hand game
Players 2
Setup time None
Playing time Instant
Random chance Med-High
Skill(s) required Luck, psychology

Rock-paper-scissors is a hand game usually played by two people, where players simultaneously form one of three shapes with an outstretched hand. The "rock" beats scissors, the "scissors" beat paper and the "paper" beats rock; if both players throw the same shape, the game is tied. Other names for the game in the English-speaking world include roshambo, Paper-Scissors-Stone, ick-ack-ock and other orderings of the three items.[1][2][3]

The game is often used as a choosing method in a way similar to coin flipping, drawing straws, or throwing dice. Unlike truly random selection methods, however, rock-paper-scissors can be played with a degree of skill by recognizing and exploiting non-random behavior in opponents.[4]

Game play

Each of the three basic hand-signs (from left to right: rock, paper, and scissors) beats one of the other two, and loses to the other.

The players usually count aloud to four, or speak the name of the game (e.g. "Rock Paper Scissors!" or "Ro Sham Bo!"), each time either raising one hand in a fist and swinging it down on the count or holding it behind. On the fourth count (saying, "Shoot!" or "Go!") or on the third count (saying, "Scissors!" or "Bo!"), the players change their hands into one of three gestures, which they then "throw" by extending it towards their opponent. Variations include a version where players use only three counts before throwing their gesture (thus throwing on the count of "Scissors!" or "Bo!", or a version where they shake their hands three times before "throwing." The gestures are (in the three gesture version):

  • Rock, represented by a clenched fist
  • Scissors, represented by two fingers extended and separated, sometimes coming together
  • Paper, represented by an open hand, with the fingers extended and touching, in order to represent a sheet of paper (horizontal)

The objective is to select a gesture which defeats that of the opponent. Gestures are resolved as follows:

  • Rock blunts or breaks scissors: rock defeats scissors.
  • Scissors cut paper: scissors defeats paper.
  • Paper covers, sands or captures rock: paper defeats rock.

If both players choose the same gesture, the game is tied and the players throw again. The game is sometimes played as "best of three".

History

Asian origin

The first known mention of the game was in the book Wuzazu (五杂组) by the Chinese Ming Dynasty writer Xie Zhaozhi (谢肇淛; fl. ca. 1600), who wrote that the game dated back to the time of the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD).[5] In the book, the game was called shoushiling (手势令; lit "hand command"). Li Rihua's (李日华) book Note of Liuyanzhai (六砚斋笔记) also reveals this game, calling it shoushiling (手势令), huozhitou (豁指头), or huoquan (豁拳).

Throughout Japanese history there are frequent references to "sansukumi-ken" (三竦み拳), meaning "ken" (拳) [fist] games with a three-way [三] (san) deadlock [竦み] (sukumi), in the sense that A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A.[6] The games originated in China before being imported to Japan and subsequently becoming popular.[6] The earliest Japanese "sansukumi-ken" game was known as "mushi-ken" (虫拳), which was imported directly from China.[6][7] In "Mushi-ken" the "frog" (represented by the thumb) is superseded the "slug" (represented by the little finger), which, in turn is superseded by the "snake" (represented by the index finger), which is superseded by the "frog".[6] Although this game was imported from China the Japanese version differs in the animals represented. In adopting the game, the original Chinese characters for the poisonous centipede (蜈蜙) was apparently confused with the characters for the "slug" (蛞蝓).[7] Today, the best-known "sansukumi-ken" is called "jan-ken",[7] which is a variation of the Chinese games introduced in the 17th century.[8] "Jan-ken" uses the rock, paper, and scissors signs[6] and is the game that the modern version of rock-paper-scissors derives from directly.[7] Hand-games using gestures to represent the three conflicting elements of rock, paper, and scissors have been most common since the modern version of the game was created in the late 19th century, between the Edo and Meiji periods.[9]

By the early 20th century, rock-paper-scissors had spread beyond Asia, especially through increased Japanese contact with the west.[10] Its English-language name is therefore taken from a translation of the names of the three Japanese hand-gestures for rock, paper and scissors:[11] elsewhere in Asia the open-palm gesture represents "cloth" rather than "paper".[12] The shape of the scissors is also adopted from the Japanese style.[11]

Spread beyond Asia

The game seems to have arrived in Europe in the early 20th century and to have become popular by the late 1920s. In Britain in 1924 it was described in a letter to a newspaper as a hand game, possibly of Mediterranean origin, called "zhot".[13] A reader then wrote in to say that the game "zhot" referred to was evidently Jan-ken-pon, which she had often seen played throughout Japan.[14] Although at this date the game appears to have been new enough to British readers to need explaining, the appearance by 1927 of a popular thriller with the title Scissors Cut Paper,[15] followed by Stone Blunts Scissors(1929), suggests it quickly became popular.

In 1927 a children's magazine in France described it in detail,[16] referring to it as a "jeu Japonais" ("Japanese game"). Its French name, "Chi-fou-mi", is based on the Japanese words for "one, two, three" ("hi, fu, mi").

A New York Times article of 1932 on the Tokyo rush hour describes the rules of the game for the benefit of American readers, suggesting it was not at that time widely known in the U.S.A.[17]

Strategies

It is impossible to gain an advantage over a truly random opponent. However, by exploiting the weaknesses of nonrandom opponents, it is possible to gain a significant advantage.[18] Indeed, human players tend to be nonrandom.[19] As such, there have been programming competitions for algorithms that play rock-paper-scissors.[18][20][21]

In tournament play, some players employ tactics to confuse or trick the other player into making an illegal move, resulting in a loss. One such tactic is to shout the name of one move before throwing another, in order to misdirect and confuse their opponent. During tournaments, players often prepare their sequence of three gestures prior to the tournament's commencement.[22][23]

Algorithms

As a consequence of rock-paper-scissors programming contests, many strong algorithms have emerged.

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created a robot hand that has a 100% winning rate playing rock-paper-scissors. Using a high-speed camera, the robot recognizes within one millisecond which shape the human hand is making, then produces the corresponding winning shape.[27]

Instances of use in real-life scenarios

American case

In 2006, American federal judge Gregory Presnell from the Middle District of Florida ordered opposing sides in a lengthy court case to settle a trivial (but lengthily debated) point over the appropriate place for a deposition using the game of rock-paper-scissors.[28] The ruling in Avista Management v. Wausau Underwriters stated:

Upon consideration of the Motion – the latest in a series of Gordian knots that the parties have been unable to untangle without enlisting the assistance of the federal courts – it is ORDERED that said Motion is DENIED. Instead, the Court will fashion a new form of alternative dispute resolution, to wit: at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, June 30, 2006, counsel shall convene at a neutral site agreeable to both parties. If counsel cannot agree on a neutral site, they shall meet on the front steps of the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 North Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida 33602. Each lawyer shall be entitled to be accompanied by one paralegal who shall act as an attendant and witness. At that time and location, counsel shall engage in one game of "rock, paper, scissors." The winner of this engagement shall be entitled to select the location for the 30(b)(6) deposition to be held somewhere in Hillsborough County during the period July 11–12, 2006.[29]

The public release of this judicial order, widely circulated among area lawyers, was seemingly intended to shame the respective law firms regarding their litigation conduct by settling the dispute in a farcical manner.

Auction house rock-paper-scissors match

When Takashi Hashiyama, CEO of a Japanese television equipment manufacturer, decided to auction off the collection of impressionist paintings owned by his corporation, including works by Cézanne, Picasso, and van Gogh, he contacted two leading auction houses, Christie's International and Sotheby's Holdings, seeking their proposals on how they would bring the collection to the market as well as how they would maximize the profits from the sale. Both firms made elaborate proposals, but neither was persuasive enough to get Hashiyama’s business. Unwilling to split up the collection into separate auctions, Hashiyama asked the firms to decide between themselves who would hold the auction, which included Cézanne's Large Trees Under the Jas de Bouffan, worth $12–16 million.

The houses were unable to reach a decision. Hashiyama told the two firms to play rock-paper-scissors to decide who would get the rights to the auction, explaining that "it probably looks strange to others, but I believe this is the best way to decide between two things which are equally good".

The auction houses had a weekend to come up with a choice of move. Christie's went to the 11-year-old twin daughters of the international director of Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Department Nicholas Maclean, who suggested "scissors" because "Everybody expects you to choose 'rock'." Sotheby's said that they treated it as a game of chance and had no particular strategy for the game, but went with "paper".[31]

Christie's won the match and sold the $20 million collection, with millions of dollars of commission for the auction house.

Rock-paper-scissors in video games

In many real-time strategy, first-person shooter, and role-playing video games, it is common for a group of possible weapons or unit types to interact in a rock-paper-scissors style, where each selection is strong against a particular choice, but weak against another, emulating the cycles in real world warfare (such as cavalry being strong against archers, archers being strong against pikemen, and pikemen being strong against cavalry[32]). Such game mechanics can make a game somewhat self-balancing, and prevent gameplay from being overwhelmed by a single dominant strategy.[32]

Many card-based video games in Japan use the rock-paper-scissors system as their core fighting system, with the winner of each round being able to carry out their designated attack. Other games use simple variants of rock-paper-scissors as subgames.

Rock-paper-scissors analogs in nature

Lizard mating strategies

The common side-blotched lizard (Uta stansburiana) exhibits a rock-paper-scissors pattern in its mating strategies. Of its three color types of males, "orange beats blue, blue beats yellow, and yellow beats orange" in competition for females, which is similar to the rules of rock-paper-scissors.[33][34]

Bacteria

Some bacteria also exhibit a rock-paper-scissors dynamic when they engage in antibiotic production. The theory for this finding was demonstrated by computer simulation and in the laboratory by Benjamin Kerr, working at Stanford University with Brendan Bohannan.[35] Additional in vitro results demonstrate rock-paper-scissors dynamics in additional species of bacteria.[36] Biologist Benjamin C. Kirkup, Jr. demonstrated that these antibiotics, bacterioicins, were active as Escherichia coli compete with each other in the intestines of mice, and that the rock-paper-scissors dynamics allowed for the continued competition among strains: antibiotic-producers defeat antibiotic-sensitives; antibiotic-resisters multiply and withstand and out-compete the antibiotic-producers, letting antibiotic-sensitives multiply and out-compete others; until antibiotic-producers multiply again.[37]

Rock-paper-scissors is the subject of continued research in bacterial ecology and evolution. It is considered one of the basic applications of game theory and non-linear dynamics to bacteriology.[38] Models of evolution demonstrate how intragenomic competition can lead to rock-paper-scissors dynamics from a relatively general evolutionary model.[39] The general nature of this basic non-transitive model is widely applied in theoretical biology to explore bacterial ecology and evolution.[40][41]

Tournaments


World Rock Paper Scissors Society sanctioned tournaments

Starting in 2002, the World Rock Paper Scissors Society standardized a set of rules for international play[42] and has overseen annual International World Championships. These open, competitive championships have been widely attended by players from around the world and have attracted widespread international media attention.[43][44][45][46][47] WRPS events are noted for their large cash prizes, elaborate staging, and colorful competitors.[48] In 2004, the championships were broadcast on the U.S. television network Fox Sports Net, with the winner being Lee Rammage, who went on to compete in at least one subsequent championship.[49][50] The 2007 tournament was won by Andrea Farina.[51]

UK Rock Paper Scissors Championships

Several RPS events have been organised in the United Kingdom by Wacky Nation. The 1st UK Championship took place on 13 July 2007, and then again on 14 July 2008, in Rhayader, Powys. The 3rd UK Championships took place on 9 June 2009, in Exeter, Devon. Nick Hemley, from Woking, Surrey, won the contest just beating Chris Grimwood.[52] The 4th UK Championships took place on 13 November 2010, at the Durell Arms in West London. Paul Lewis from Woking beat Ed Blake in the final and collected the £100 first prize and UK title. Richard Daynes Appreciation Society won the team event. 80 competitors took part in the main contest and 10 entries in the team contest.

The 5th UK Rock Paper Scissors Championships took place in London on Saturday 22 October 2011.[53] The event was open to 128 individual competitors. There was also a team contest for 16 teams. The 2011 singles tournament was won by Max Deeley and the team contest won by The Big Faces (Andrew Bladon, Jamie Burland, Tom Wilkinson and Captain Joe Kenny).[54] The 6th UK Rock Paper Scissors Championships[55] took place at Crosse Keys Pub, London on Saturday 13 October 2012 with over 200 competitors.[55]

The 7th UK Rock Paper Scissors Championships will take place at the Knights Templar Pub, Chancery Lane, London on Saturday 23 November 2013.

USARPS Tournaments

USA Rock Paper Scissors League is a US-based rock-paper-scissors league. It is sponsored by Bud Light. Leo Bryan Pacis is the commissioner of the USARPS.

In April 2006, the inaugural USARPS Championship was held in Las Vegas. Following months of regional qualifying tournaments held across the US, 257 players were flown to Las Vegas for a single-elimination tournament at the House of Blues where the winner received $50,000. The tournament was shown on the A&E Network on 12June 2006.

The $50,000 2007 USARPS Tournament took place at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay in May 2007.

In 2008, Sean "Wicked Fingers" Sears beat out 300 other contestants and walked out of the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino with $50,000 after defeating Julie "Bulldog" Crossley in the finals.

The inaugural Budweiser International Rock, Paper, Scissors Federation Championship was held in Beijing, China after the close of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games at Club Bud. A Belfast man won the competition.[56] Sean finished 3rd.

Team Olimpik Rock Paper Scissors Championships 2012

The international tournament was held in London 2012. UK Champions Team GB (Andrew Bladon, Jamie Burland, Tom Wilkinson and Stephen Preston) went in as overwhelming favorites, but after a "domestic incident" team captain and UK Team Champion Joe Kenny was forced to pull out, allowing Stephen Preston to fill his gloves. Great Britain came a respectable third to achieve the Bronze Medal, while the crowd favorite Vatican City got the Silver and Lapland A took the prestigious Gold Medal. British team captain Tom Wilkinson commented "after a 4-0 whitewash of hot favorites Vatican City we thought we had it. A simple lapse of concentration lost it for us, but we are happy with our bronze medal. We'll come back from this and look to take the title back again next year. The support was immense, and we are thankful of everyone who came out to support us".[57]

National XtremeRPS Competition 2007-2008

The XtremeRPS National Competition is a US nationwide RPS competition with Preliminary Qualifying contests that started in January 2007 and ended in May 2008, followed by regional finals in June and July 2008. The national finals were to be held in Des Moines, Iowa in August 2008, with a chance to win up to $5,000.

Guinness Book of World Records

On 9 July 2010, over 6500 attendees of the LIFE 2010 Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, participated in the largest tournament of Rock-Paper-Scissors ever.

World Series of Rock Paper Scissors

Former Celebrity Poker Showdown host and USARPS Head Referee[58] Phil Gordon has hosted an annual $500 World Series of Rock Paper Scissors event in conjunction with the World Series of Poker since 2005.[59] The winner of the WSORPS receives an entry into the WSOP Main Event. The event is an annual fundraiser for the "Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation" via Gordon's charity Bad Beat on Cancer. Poker player Annie Duke won the Second Annual World Series of Rock Paper Scissors.[60][61] The tournament is taped by ESPN and highlights are covered during "The Nuts" section of ESPN's annual WSOP broadcast.[62][63][64] 2009 was the fifth year of the tournament.

Variations

Players have developed numerous cultural and personal variations on the game, from simply playing the same game with different objects, to expanding into more weapons and rules.

In Japan, a "strip-poker" variant of Rock-paper-scissors is known as 野球拳 (Yakyuken). The loser of each round removes an article of clothing. The game is a minor part of porn culture in Japan, and other Asian countries after the influence of TV variety shows and Soft On Demand.

In the Philippines, the game is called jak-en-poy, from one of the Japanese names of the game, transliterated as jan-ken-pon. In a longer version of the game, a four-line song is sung, with hand gestures displayed at the end of each line: "Jack-en-poy! / Hali-hali-hoy! / Sino'ng matalo, / siya'ng unggoy!" ("Jack-en-poy! / Hali-hali-hoy! / Whoever loses is the monkey!") The person with the most wins at the end of the song, wins the game.

In the Malaysian and Singaporean version of the game, "scissors" is replaced by "bird," represented with the finger tips of five fingers brought together to form a beak. The open palm represents water. Bird beats water (by drinking it); stone beats bird (by hitting it); and stone loses to water (because it sinks in it).

Singapore also has a related hand-game called "ji gu pa," where "ji" refers to the bird gesture, "gu" refers to the stone gesture, and "pa" refers to the water gesture. The game is played by two players using both hands. At the same time, they both say, ji gu pa!" At "pa!" they both show two open-palmed hands. One player then changes his hand gestures while calling his new combination out (e.g., "pa gu!"). At the same time, the other player changes his hand gestures as well. If one of his hand gestures is the same as the other one, that hand is "out" and he puts it behind his back; he is no longer able to play that hand for the rest of the round. The players take turns in this fashion, until one player loses by having both hands sent "out." "Ji gu pa" is most likely a transcription of the Japanese names for the different hand gestures in the original jan-ken game, "choki" (scissors), "guu" (rock) and "paa" (paper).

Using the same tripartite division, there is a full-body variation in lieu of the hand signs called "Bear, Hunter, Ninja".[65] In this iteration the participants stand back-to-back and at the count of three (or ro-sham-bo as is traditional) turn around facing each other using their arms evoking one of the totems.[66] The players' choices break down as: Hunter shoots bear; Bear eats ninja; Ninja kills hunter.[67] The game was popularized with a FedEx commercial[68] where warehouse employees had too much free time on their hands.

Additional weapons

As long as the number of moves is an odd number and that each move defeats exactly half of the other moves while being defeated by the other half, any combination of moves will function as a game. For example, 5-, 7-, 9-, 11-, 15-, 25-, and 101-weapon versions exist.[69] Adding new gestures has the effect of reducing the odds of a tie, while increasing the complexity of the game. The probability of a tie in an odd-number-of-weapons game can be calculated based on the number of weapons n as 1/n, so the probability of a tie is 1/3 in RPS, 1/5 in RPSLS and 1/101 in RPS101.

Similarly, the French game "pierre, papier, ciseaux, puits" (stone, paper, scissors, well) is unbalanced; both the rock and scissors fall in the well and lose to it, while paper covers both rock and well. This means two "weapons", well and paper, can defeat two moves, while the other two weapons each defeats only one of the other three choices. The well is made by forming a circle with the thumb and index finger to show the opening of a stone well; the bull is made by making a fist but extending the little finger and index finger to show the bull's horns. Québec has "Roche, Papier, Ciseaux, Allumette" with a match as the fourth move, which beats paper but loses to scissors and rock. In theory, "unbalanced" games are less random but more psychological, more closely resembling real world conflicts. However, games of this sort are popular more for novelty than for exploring such ideas. This version is also played in some areas of Germany; it often adds "the bull" (which drinks the well empty, eats the paper, but gets stabbed by the scissors, and is crushed by the rock)[further explanation needed].

Resolution and gesture diagrams for Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock

One popular five-weapon expansion is "Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock", invented by Sam Kass and Karen Bryla,[70] which adds "Spock" and "lizard" to the standard three choices. "Spock" is signified with the Star Trek Vulcan salute, while "lizard" is shown by forming the hand into a sock-puppet-like mouth. Spock smashes scissors and vaporizes rock; he is poisoned by lizard and disproven by paper. Lizard poisons Spock and eats paper; it is crushed by rock and decapitated by scissors. This variant was mentioned in a 2005 article of The Times[71] and was later the subject of an episode of the American sitcom The Big Bang Theory in 2008.[72]

The majority of such proposed generalizations are isomorphic to a simple game of modulo arithmetic, where half the differences are wins for player one. For instance, rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock may be modeled as a game in which each player picks a number from one to five. Subtract the number chosen by player two from the number chosen by player one, and then take the modulo 5 of the result. Player one is the victor if the difference is one or two, and player two is the victor if the difference is three or four. If the difference is zero, the game is a tie.

See also

References

Notes
Bibliography
  • Culin, Stewart (1895) Korean Games, With Notes on the Corresponding Games at China and Japan. (evidence of nonexistence of rock-paper-scissors in the West)
  • Gomme, Alice Bertha (1894, 1898) The traditional games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 2 vols. (more evidence of nonexistence of rock-paper-scissors in the West)
  • Opie, Iona & Opie, Peter (1969) Children's Games in Street and Playground Oxford University Press, London. (Details some variants on rock-paper-scissors such as 'Man, Earwig, Elephant' in Indonesia, and presents evidence for the existence of 'finger throwing games' in Egypt as early as 2000 B.C.)
  • Walker, Douglas & Walker, Graham (2004) The Official Rock Paper Scissors Strategy Guide. Fireside. (strategy, tips and culture from the World Rock Paper Scissors Society).

External links

  • Etymological origin of Janken (Japanese)
  • About Ken games (Japanese)
  • Origins of Janken (Japanese)
  • Janken in the world (Japanese)
  • A biological example of rock-paper-scissors: Interview with biologist Barry Sinervo on the 7th Avenue Project Radio Show
  • Rock Paper Scissors Programming Competition

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