Rock… paper… scissors!


The simplest games can be the most fun! Dating back thousands of years to ancient Roman and Greek times, simple hand games were often used to pass the time. One example is called Morra, where each player simultaneously reveals their hand, extending any number of fingers and calls out a number. Any player who successfully guesses the total number of fingers revealed by all players combined scores a point.

A modern day version of the game is ‘Rock, paper, scissors’, used by children in playgrounds all over the world, and also by adults to make those all-important decisions, like whose turn it is to buy the drinks! 

The aim is to defeat the opponent by choosing a sign that can beat the other, according to the following rules:
-    The rock (clenched fist) breaks the scissors (two fingers outstretched) and the rock wins;
-    The scissors cut the paper (hand held flat) and the scissors win;
-    The paper wraps the rock and the paper wins;
-    If the two players choose the same weapon, the game is a draw.

Researchers from the University of Sussex have even conducted a study on this simple game to better understand players’ behaviour. The study showed that despite being allowed to use whatever strategy they wished, people generally opted to stick with their chosen sign if it won the round and only changed sign if they lost. Isn’t it fascinating what can be learned from such a simple game?