Rock, Paper, Airstrike

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Paper airplane vs missile

Paper vs. Airstrike. Someone's going down.

“You sunk my battleship! What? Wrong game?”
~ Noel Coward on Rock, Paper, Airstrike
“I once played postmentioned game with the Earl of Duke, he pulled a rock and I pulled an Airstrike.”
~ Oscar Wilde on Rock, Paper, Airstrike

Rock, Paper, Airstrike is a popular children's game where 2 or more children gather in a circle and make obscene hand gestures at one another in an attempt to win the game. The rules are surprisingly complex for such a simple children's game, yet it remains a game that children enjoy the world over. Adults don't play because they generally find the game too disturbing to enjoy.



Gameplay is rather simple for a game so complex. Unlike "War", the card game, no props are needed. All players need are their own hands. The players have a choice of the handsign for rock (a fist), the handsign for paper (an open palm), and the handsign for airstrike (like the handsign for paper, but with pinky and thumb extended). Below are listed the ways that winners are determined in a two-player game (the game grows more complex as the size of the group playing increases, but the basic ideas remain the same).

Airstrike vs. Rock

In this case, the player with the airstrike defeats the player with the rock, for obvious reasons.

Rock vs. Paper

In this instance, the player with the rock defeats the player with the paper, because a rock hurts more.

Paper vs. Airstrike

Here, the airstrike wins, because airstrikes always win, and papers are pathetic.


The cover from the popular Japanese videogame of the same name.

Paper vs. Paper

In this variation, both players win, because paper is worthless and nobody who's going up against paper can lose.

Rock vs. Rock

There is actually no rule for this scenario, so in such situations, the players usually end up in an argument which often degenerates into a fistfight.

Airstrike vs. Airstrike

When this happens, all players lose. As a result, they must join hands and dance in a circle, singing the "Mutual annihilation" song. The lyrics of which are as follows:

Mutual Annihilation!
From too many airstrikes!
Ashes, Ashes
We all fall down!

At this point, the children usually fall to the ground, rolling around and giggling. Adults watching such a display have been known to give their children lobotomies the next day "for the greater good."

Related Gameplay

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