Boulder Parchment Hedgeclippers

iD Tech in action

(the other) Pete here, buried neck-deep in new activity development for the Summer of 2010 at iD Tech Camps! I have been hard at work on several projects to enhance the fun-factor and culture of all 70 or so camps, including my attempt to create iPhone apps for our Activity Curriculum. In case anyone is wondering, programming for the iPhone from scratch is pretty complicated – which is why I really wish I could simply take the iD course this Summer instead of hacking away on my own… but I digress!

I have been mistaken for an Activity Expert, but I have always believed that I’m an Experience Expert. The difference is that while I do know a good deal of games and events that our Staff can facilitate, I prefer having the ideas come from within. Games and activities that are generated by our Staff are genuine, unique and encourage greater buy-in from the Campers. Homebrew events are not easy to encourage and execute because many times they require preparation and some level of testing. My goal, therefore, is to create tools and templates for game and activity creation to be as simple as possible.

The 2009 Activity Curriculum featured an entire section on how to create new games, which is where many of the field games inspired by video games began. We created a step-by-step process that detailed the different pieces of a successful game (along with some industry secrets) and enabled our Staff to fully customize the activities to suit their camp needs. Our Nacho Incentive Program that was directed at the Staff encouraged creation and sharing of games throughout the whole iD Tech community – from our Connecticut summer camps to our summer camps in CA!

Another incentive encouraged the Staff to create a new version of Rock Paper Scissors for their camp. We thought that we would only get a handful of variations – but boy, were we wrong!


Rock Paper Scissors is the foundation to many gaming interactions. The concept that Rock beats Scissors beats Paper beats Rock, appears in many popular games, both virtual and real. Football, for instance, matches two sets of plays, an offense and a defense. Depending on the choice of the opponents, the advantage will shift from one side to another. The showdown between a pitcher and a batter in Baseball follows the same pattern. Choices dictate success or failure. While other factors inform these choices, such as picking up details in the formation of the other side or watching for the turn of the baseball, the concept of making a choice based on as much information as you have available is consistant with RPS.

American RPS involves two players that repeat aloud, “Rock Paper Scissors, SHOOT!” while hitting one fist onto an open palm for for each beat. The fourth beat, or “SHOOT,” is the moment they flash one of the three symbols:




Many RPS players believe that the game is based completely on luck, while others seem to win more than half of the time. Another gaming concept emerges, which is that of identifying patterns. Humans are relatively rotten at randomization – rather, humans playing RPS are rotten at randomization because they believe they have a strategy. If one is playing to win, they attempt to incorporate a strategy that will inform their choices, based on the perceived choices of the opponent. Let’s look at an example:

Round 1:
Pete – Rock
Bryan – Rock
Result: TIE

What are the players thinking after this round? Neither player is going to play Scissors next, because they believe that Rock will be played again (a common move). Of course, if Rock is played again, then one must play Paper to win. Taking that a step further, if one player goes as far as Paper, the other may want to play Scissors – which leads to Round 2…

Round 2:
Pete – Rock
Bryan – Rock
Result: TIE

Each player thought that they outsmarted the other. Now the fun begins. Three of the same symbol in a row is generally unlikely, or so many players will believe. That makes Rock the least likely symbol for either to throw – meaning that the logical play is Scissors. But wait – the logical play is to do the unexpected, which is another Rock play. Each player at this point has to make a choice based on the pattern that they observe. There is no randomness to the symbol that they choose, instead a calculated decision based on the information they have available.

Round 3:
Pete – Rock
Bryan – Paper
Result: Bryan WINS

Round 3 ends the game in a dramatic fashion. Pete believes that the least likely play is Rock, which means that Bryan will likely play Scissors. This logic is based on the thought that Bryan also knows that Rock is unlikely to be played. Pete’s strategy is that Bryan, as an experienced player, will deduce that Pete is going to play Paper to defeat the unlikely Rock. The truth is that Bryan knows that Pete loves repeating the same symbol and doesn’t overthink it, leading to his victory.

(variations after the break)


We were overwhelmed with new versions of RPS in 2009 and hope to gather even more this summer. The goal is to have a different version for each of the 70+ technology summer camps, which will make for a super-long blog entry in 2011! Here are some of our favorites:

PVN (best played back-to-back)

Star Wars Style RPS

Mario Bros. Style RPS
MARIO jumps on YOSHI

Occupational RPS
MATHEMATICIAN beats PHYSICIST (since all the physics formulas need math to be derived)
PHYSICIST beats ENGINEER (because in order to engineer things you need to use some physics)
ENGINEER beats MATHEMATICIAN (since what engineers do is actually understood by the general public)

RFSSPAW (Fairly Complex)
ROCK pounds out FIRE, crushes SCISSORS & SPONGE
SCISSORS swishes through AIR, cuts PAPER & SPONGE
SPONGE soaks PAPER, uses AIR pockets, absorbs WATER
PAPER fans AIR, covers ROCK, floats on WATER
AIR extinguishes FIRE, erodes ROCK, evaporates WATER
WATER erodes ROCK, extinguishes FIRE, rusts SCISSORS
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iD Tech is the #1 tech camp on the planet, with 150+ global locations. Kids and teens learn to code, design video games, produce videosengineer robots, and more!

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