Rock. Paper. Scissor. Shoot.
Four words that span generations and the globe.
A game played both out of - and in defeat of - boredom.
Contrary to the 80’s-inspired melodrama, rock, paper, scissor (RPS) find themselves squaring off, and in doing so, reveal much about the strange humans playing them. First, the game has very little to do with luck. There is strategy involved. If I lost throwing rock, do I try it again!? If I won throwing rock, do I use it again!? Ah, so many choices (okay, only 3). It is these agonizing choices - and fear of our opponent’s decisions - that prevent us humans from playing a random hand - which would be the best choice if only we could. RPS has actually been used by researchers as a model to explore human decision making through an evolutionary lens.
RPS may have the global monopoly on hand gesture games, but “War” or "N!ai" has all the style. Believed only to be played by Ju|’hoan or San peoples of Namibia and Botswana,War is a fast-paced, hand-gesture game, played to music, that pits two teams (Lightning vs Steenbok) of at most 5 players against one another. At any one time, only two people are playing, one per team. Unlike RPS, there are only 2 options: play your left or right hand. One team wins if the same hand is played (R-R or L-L). The other team wins if opposite hands are played (R-L, L-R). The round ends once one team loses 5 times. War is not played to a specified number of rounds, but rather ends whenever the players choose to stop or when time becomes limited, as they often play for tourists visiting the area.
Alex de Voogt and his SRMP team of Mohamed and Rebecca have hours of War video footage. The game is pretty fast and challenging to keep up with (and looks like a lot of fun). Moe and Rebecca are completing the first ever detailed study of this game and its mechanics.