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Rock Paper Scissors

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Written by Jordan Francis

Posted on 30 March 2014

db2e_lizard_spock"Rock Paper Scissors" (RPS) is a classic free-to-play multiplayer strategy game with no anti-piracy restrictions. There are sites and applications available that allow players to game against a set program of moves or an AI, but the full version of the game can be downloaded for free off of any site where one can find instructions or off of any other player who already owns the game. The game was first created and released by some unknown indie developers in Asia during the Hang Dynasty, where it was called "Shoushiling," which translates roughly to "hand command." Eventually, as with many games from Asia, it grew in popularity with the Western crowd, who managed to import the game to their countries, translating it into many languages. The English translation was eventually retitled as "Rock Paper Scissors."

As with many classic games, the mechanics of the gameplay are fairly simple. Two or more players position themselves so that they can all see each others' hands. In the English version, the players then make one hand into a fist and move it up and down three to four times as they chant three to four words, most commonly "rock, paper, scissors" or "rock, paper, scissors, shoot." On the third or fourth word (depending on which version players are using), players take the hand that was making a fist and use it to display their chosen element. A flat hand signifies paper. A fist with the index and middle finger sticking out indicates scissors. A hand that remains a fist is a rock. These three elements are a bit of a rip-off of the concept of starter Pokémon from the popular "Pokémon" game series in that each element is strong against one of the other two elements and weak against the second. In this case, instead of fire, water, and grass, players have to choose between rock (which beats scissors and loses to paper), paper (which beats rock and loses to scissors), or scissors (which beats paper and loses to rock). After all players have showed their weapons of choice, players compare to see whose elements have emerged victorious. If two of the same elements are thrown, they tie and players must replay the round to determine a victor. This process can be repeated as often as necessary or until players get bored. The great thing about this game is it does not require a console or a computer, so there is no DRM or any other sort of "always online" requirement. The only main necessary compatibility checks are thus: players must ensure beforehand that all participants are using the same version of RPS, or else players may wind up showing their chosen elements at different times. Additionally, it is usually a good idea for players to establish the number of rounds beforehand, lest hardcore players or those on a losing streak try to introduce unwanted extended versions of the game.

Due to its open-source policy and general lack of restrictions, RPS has a thriving mod community. While some mods can get complex and creative, it is not difficult to get into this community. In fact, grade school children frequently create some of what are considered the best or most mods to the game. Most of the modifications add weapons to the player's choice of elements, such as fire, gun, and meteor. These mods are easy to find and use, but are banned in tournament play and will only be tolerated by certain players. Some groups of RPS gamers encourage the use of mods to make play more exciting, though many more groups consider using any elements outside of the core three to be cheating. These groups will suspend or ban players who use these mods, especially if players do not establish beforehand that their version feature such additions.

In addition to the modding community, "Rock Paper Scissors" has somewhat recently released downloadable content in the form of the "Lizard Spock" expansion. This DLC has gained popularity in recent years, especially among those who found the original gameplay to be somewhat repetitive and predictable. The "Lizard Spock" expansion seeks to fix the problem of predictability by adding two new elements to the player's set of choices: Lizard and Spock. Lizard poisons Spock and eats paper, but is decapitated by scissors and crushed by rock. Spock vaporizes rock and smashes or breaks scissors, but is poisoned by lizard and disproved by paper. All rules of the original three elements still apply and the remainder of the interaction rules can be derived by combining those with the new rules. This expansion pack allows for more possible outcomes between players and thus makes the game a bit more difficult and engaging.

Overall, "Rock Paper Scissors" is a fun game with a rich history. It makes for an entertaining game and an effective decision-making process, particularly with the use of the expansion pack. It is free to play and easy to obtain and set up, so players who have not checked this game out really have nothing to lose by trying it out.
Colorado School of Mines

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