If Greg can dedicate an entire entry to Candyland, then surely he can greenlight an article on Roshambo (better known to Westerners as Rock-Paper-Scissors).
Before you dismiss this as a completely stupid game of luck, consider:
- In a tournament, if you play a completely random strategy, you'll have an average record of 1-1-1 for every three games you play. This is not remotely close to what is required to win.
- If you have sufficient reflexes and hand-eye coordination, you could theoretically change your hand movements mid-throw based on the gesture you see your opponent forming.
- It turns out that human beings are really bad at playing randomly. What most people think of as "random" is anything but. Consider: if you've already thrown Rock three times in a row, what is the probability you'll throw it a fourth time? The actual probability is 1 in 3, but in practice most people will not make the same throw four times in a row because it makes them afraid they will appear "not random enough."
- Playing one game might be random. Playing a set of several throws gives you the opportunity to detect patterns in your opponent's play.
Human brains are wonderful pattern-recognition machines. The trick with Roshambo is, then, to detect your opponent's pattern while attempting to mask your own. Thought of in this way, it has as much psychological skill as any other bluffing game (like Poker). So the next time someone challenges you to best-of-three to see who takes out the garbage, you'd do well to take the game a little more seriously.
Lastly, Roshambois worth mentioning for its influence on modern games. It is one of the purest of intransitive mechanics and can be seen in some form in many RPGs (often as gambling mini-games, but sometimes as a form of tactical combat when some character types are strong or weak against others) and RTSs (the typical case being "footmen beat archers, archers beat fliers, fliers beat footmen"), and even in other non-digital games like Reiner Knizia's Maginor board game or White Wolf's Mind's Eye Theater LARP.
As such, this game is worthy of close study, moreso than most gamers and designers give it credit for.
N.B.: If you like the image above, it's available as a poster through the World RPS Society.