One of the best things about being in a poetry group is learning all sorts of odd, useless information. Like the official rules to Rock-Paper-Scissors (thanks, Lianne!).

Did you know there is a World Rock-Paper-Scissors Society? Did you know they take this game very, very seriously? Did you know there are world championships? Did you know there’s merch?

These six items come from the Player’s Reponsibility Code, found at They are in bold. My thoughts, which are not backed up by any official organization, are not highlighted.

  1. Safety First! Always ensure that all players have removed sharp jewellery and watches. (I like a group that emphasizes safety in hand gestures.)
  2. Ensure agreement, before the first round, on priming conventions (we recommend the standard 3 prime shoot). (I don’t know what the “standard 3 prime shoot” is, but I think rules are generally most helpful when decided before the game begins.)
  3. Always establish what is to be decided or whether the match is to be played for honour. (Really? Rock Paper Scissors for honor alone? Now that’s a duel!)
  4. Pre-determine the number of rounds required to win the match (remember odd numbers only). (Because even numbers suck.)
  5. Encourage novice development by explaining blunders in judgement with a mind towards being helpful. Don’t berate. (Novices grow up to become masters, so be nice.)
  6. Think twice before using RPS for life-threatening decisions. (I don’t know. I wonder if using RPS for life-threatening decisions might actually help people think more clearly.)

Under the section of the website titled Rule Governance, it reads:

All temporary amendments are considered ephemeral unless otherwise agreed upon, but must not include any variant throws beyond the basic trinity such as, but not limited to, dynamite, bird, well, spock, god, water, lightning, bomb, matchstick, water, and/or Texas longhorn. (I might have won once or twice if I’d known I could use spock or God or a Texas Longhorn. No word, Baylor fans, on Man-Gun-Bear.)

The RPS Society and other groups that study such things as games of chance point out that Rock-Paper-Scissors is not truly random. The game is played by people, and people have tendencies. Those tendencies can be studied and predicted. A computer can be taught to play Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Therefore, I’m on the lookout, for a nice, not-too-fancy, not-too-big humanoid robot (these do exist). I will play Rock-Paper-Scissors with it and use the game to make all my major decisions: Where should I eat lunch? What should be the topic of my next column? And how can I turn back the hands of time?

I’m already developing my very own strategy. Game on.



  1. John Willome says

    I like the idea of using RPS to decide where to eat lunch. Let’s try it this weekend.

  2. My son told me about this a few days ago!

    I guess #2 has to do with whether you show your hand on 3 (“one, two, THREE!”) or after 3 (“one, two, three, GO!”).

    I never thought about it before, but I guess I can see how it can get complicated, trying to psyche someone out and predict their next move. I’m thinking of the poison scene in “The Princess Bride” (and in that case, they didn’t seem to consider the #6).

  3. Oh my. Imagine. I never knew this. And here I thought all along as I played RPS with myself that it was the only way to make a decision. Harumph. Now I gotta go find a humanoid robot too? Oh dear. That will take all the fun out of the game. I so love fooling myself by my random answers! 🙂

    Love This Post!!!!!

  4. Clif Drummond says

    When I was a child (yes, that is a possibility) me and my 3 brothers, we “played” rps for keeps! There was a 7th rule: “This is a most serious thing. The game will be played until there is a broken arm, blood flows, or a trip to the hospital is required.” Gosh, what good fun!

  5. but what about thumb wrestling?

  6. 🙂

    This is our girls’ Game for Deciding Almost Everything in This House.

    I will hereby share the official rules.