Why: Somebody said it on the teevee last night. I can't be sure who.
Answer: It's named after Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau! Whom? Why, the commander-in-chief of the French Expeditionary Force who helped George Washington and the Continental Army during the American Revolution! What a pal! But the thing is that nobody really knows why "Rock Paper Scissors" is associated with him. Oh well. Maybe it's just that his name has 3 syllables.
So instead of the real answer, here are some facts & theories about the origins of Rock Paper Scissors:
- The first written record of the game is from 200 BC in Japan, where the name is Jan-ken-pon (or just Jan-ken). Ken means "fist."
- Or it actually originated in the Chinese Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 CE), called Shoushiling.
- The "game" (wut? it's not a game!) is based on 2 older games:
- San sukumi ken, something about "the freezing aspects of a snake, frog, and slug with fear"
- Su ken, a numbers+competing game with fingers, maybe just like the ancient Greek / Roman game Morra)
- It started in Africa, where early man invented tools.
- It was an ancient Scandinavian pastime that spread to Europe.
- It was a traditional Celtic game that spread to Europe in the 6th century BC via settlers in Portugal, where it was called Pihedra, Papelsh e Tijhera.
Source: The Straight Dope, Wikipedia
The More You Know: Some variations on RPS:
- In Japan - chief of village, (kills) tiger, (eats) mother of chief (beats chief)
- In Indonesia - elephant, (crushes) person, (crushes) ant (crawls in elephant's ear and drives it crazy)
- In Myanmar - general, gun, raising hands
- In Vietnam - hammer, nail, wrapping
- Orange-throated males are the biggest, blue-throated the middle, and yellow-throated the smallest.
- Orange ones beat blue.
- Blue beats yellow.
- Yellow ones are small and their coloring mimics that of females. While the orange ones are fighting the blue ones, the yellow ones sneak in and steal their wimmens away!