Rock, Paper, Scissors, or RPS, is a game that has been enjoyed by people of all ages for generations. However, what many people might not know is that RPS has recently been on the rise as a competitive sport, with tournaments, rules, rankings, and even prize money.
The origins of RPS are obscure, but it is believed to have originated in China thousands of years ago, where it was played as a hand game called “shǒutóu jiǎn” (手投剪), which means “hand-played scissors.” Its popularity spread to Japan, where it gained the name “jan-ken” and became a common pastime of children and adults alike. In the West, RPS was introduced in the 19th century and has since become a staple of bar games and playgrounds.
What makes RPS so fascinating as a competitive sport is its simplicity and unpredictability. The game consists of three hand signals that can beat or be beaten by each other: rock crushes scissors, scissors cut paper, and paper covers rock. Each player chooses one of these signals simultaneously, and the winner is determined by the combination of signals.
However, the seemingly random nature of RPS belies the complexity of the game when played at a high level. Skilled players can analyze their opponent’s tendencies, bluff, and counter-bluff, and use statistical probabilities to make educated guesses about what signal their opponent will play. Tactics such as “baiting,” “feinting,” and “doubling down” can turn the game into a mind game that requires strategy, psychology, and quick thinking.
The competitive RPS scene has grown steadily over the past decade, with national and international tournaments, leagues, and organizations such as the United States RPS Championship, the World RPS Society, and the International RPS Federation. The game has its rules, referees, and official hand gestures, and players can earn points, rankings, and accolades. Prize money ranges from a few hundred dollars to thousands, and some tournaments even offer travel expenses and accommodation for the players.
The rise of competitive RPS can be attributed to several factors. First, it is a game that can be played anywhere, anytime, with no equipment or venue needed. Second, it is inclusive, as anyone can learn and play regardless of their age, gender, or background. Third, it is entertaining, as it combines skill, strategy, and luck with a touch of humor and showmanship. Finally, it is a sport that has remained true to its roots, with players competing for the pleasure of the game, rather than commercial or corporate interests.
But what does the future hold for competitive RPS? Will it continue to grow and attract more players, sponsors, and media coverage? Or will it remain a niche sport, appreciated by a select group of enthusiasts? Whatever the outcome, there is no denying the surprising rise of RPS as a pro sport, proving that even the simplest of games can become a thrilling and rewarding competition.