A quick history of: rock, paper, scissors


If you’re not familiar with this game, you’ve been living under a rock. Ha! No, but seriously, rock, paper, scissors is a game that we probably all played before we knew how to spell the word scissors.

As kids in the playground, you decide who gets to go first using this game. It’s used to make a choice about who has to do a task no-one wants to undertake. It’s used all the time.

But I bet you didn’t know that it’s old. REALLY old.

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How old is that rock?

Given that the earliest piece of paper known to exist is from around 170BC, it’s pretty funny that rock, paper, scissors is first referred to by Chinese writer Xie Zhaozhi who said that people were playing it at around 200BC. Rock, paper, scissors has been played since before the Christian faith was founded. Actually. Rock, paper, scissors potentially predates the invention of paper.

That’s how old it is.

But it’s Japan who made the game go big time. They put it into a proper historical context and called it Kitsune-Ken (literally, fox fist). And in this version of the game, the fox defeats the village head, the village head defeats the hunter and the hunter defeats the fox.

The most boring club ever

It took almost two millennia for the game to make its way into popular culture outside of Japan and China.

In fact, the most notable early example of the game being played in the West is at the most boring social club in the world: The Paper Scissors Stone Club which was founded in 1842 in London. Apparently their purpose was “…the exploration and dissemination of knowledge regarding the game of Paper Scissors Stone and providing a safe legal environment for the playing of said game.”

Uh. It’s not THAT hard. But apparently they were onto something because eighty years later, they had thousands of members all over the world.

Auction, paper, scissors

The most impressive use of rock, paper, scissors came in 2005, when Japanese electronics manufacturer Maspro Denkoh, chose the auction house who would get to auction off a multi-million dollar art collection owned by the corporation.

Both Sotheby’s and Christie’s both fancied their chances.

Hashiyama, the CEO of Maspro Denkoh, decided that the best way forward was for the auctioneers to play a game of rock, paper, scissors.

Christies won. And their commission from the sale made this probably the most valuable game of rock, paper, scissors ever recorded.


Fortunately, rock, paper, scissors is mostly just used for fun or menial choices. We’re pretty happy to be able to offer you a better way to make decisions together.

Although, it’s never a poor choice to throw in some blind luck (or clever psychology) in with your decision making processes.


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