RPS: A Condensed Cultural History
There is tremendous difficulty in tracing RPS back to its earliest roots since the game leaves very little trace in the anthropological record. Anthropologists hired by the World RPS Society have scoured the sites of hundreds of ongoing archaeological digs, but to date have found little conclusive evidence.
While numerous stone statuettes of hands in the traditional RPS positions have been found in Greece, there is very little written evidence about how the game was played or what role it played in the day to day lives of the republic. One of the few references that has surfaced refers to a man in a tavern who had the ability to predict his rivals next choice in the game of hands and thus grew rich. This reference points conclusively to the use of RPS in early republican politics.
The bulk of research into the beginnings of the game have focused on what is known as piggyback research. That is using the findings of related historical studies into Geology, Hieroglyphics and Ancient Tool-making. What has been discovered through this novel approach may surprise some. Through intimate studies of the geological record, it has been uncovered that the roots of Rock date back hundreds of years earlier than the human race was thought to exist. Through anthropological studies into the history of writing we have discovered that an early form of paper, or papyrus, was well in use by 100 BC. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when an exhaustive metallurgical study revealed that the first known scissors were invented in the year 500 by a cutter of hair, named Isidore of Seville, Italy. This vital discovery has allowed us to pinpoint the earliest possible invention of the game in the form we know it today.
Cultural Variations of RPS
The World RPS Society made significant investments in Internet technology in 1995 in order to foster the largest RPS intra-cultural study to date. The information garnered through hundreds of correspondents from every corner of the globe has helped to create the largest database of RPS variations to date. A partial list is as follows:
Paper Scissors Stone (United Kingdom)
Muck Chee Baa (Indonesia)
Janken or JakenPon (Japan)
Jan Ken Po (Hawaii)
Stone Scissors Well (France)
Hammer, Nail, Paper (Vietnam)
The most intriguing conclusion from the study other than the sheer mind-numbing number of names for the game was that each culture studied attempts to lay claim to having invented the game. The World RPS Societys on staff actuaries and logicians have assured us that the odds of more than one or two cultures developing the game independently, with all of its dizzying complexity, approaches zero. The question of which culture actually invented the game has been considered by many to be the underlying cause for several of todays most heated national rivalries on the World RPS Pro circuit.
The World RPS Society ORIGIN Task Force (Official Research Into Game-development by Independent Nations) released their report stating, There is no doubt. Through the evidence gathered by this task force, that the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors was independently invented in both Eastern Europe and China. The evidence is overwhelming, conclusive and inarguable.
This finding came into question only years later and the ORIGIN Report was ultimately rejected by the Steering Committee. The ORIGIN Review process, under the watchful eye of the Steering Committee was a painstaking investigation into all of the source material used by the task force. After the review was about to be abandoned due to an inability to find several of the secret or damaged documents referred to in the report, an enterprising young secretary closely examined the task force roster and later uncovered that the entire compliment of the task force could be described as of immediate Oriental or Czech descent.
The Oriental link to the game is based upon its close resemblance to the Martial Arts. Most RPS scholars believe that the Martial Arts likely developed as a result of a losing player, dissatisfied with the outcome of an RPS match, turning to their fists. This lead to RPS players placing a much greater emphasis on mentally and physically preparing themselves in the event that a match turned violent. In order to discourage less prepared players from taking up physical action after a loss, different coloured belts were displayed as a warning. This dragon-style RPS, as it began to be known, eventually became popular in its own right and players soon began purposely losing in order to instigate physical conflict. Eventually, players dropped the pretense and RPS and the Martial Arts developed as seperate entities.
Our first sign of the game appearing in Europe comes from France. Likely in the mid 1700s when trade began to accelerate between Europe and China, we suspect that the game migrated into France along with the various sea-faring expeditions. The game eventually became synonymous with a military commander by the name of Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, also known as le Comte de Rochambeau (1725-1807). He was commander in chief of the French forces during the American Revolution. However, to date we have uncovered no clues as to how the game developed the utterly absurd name of Roshambo in many southern areas of the United States.
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Copyright World RPS Society 2002