Playground Games That Have World Championships

You remember when you were a kid, and teachers used to tell you that you need to focus on your schoolwork rather than playing silly games if you ever wanted to amount to anything?

Well, it turns out that your teachers were filthy no-good liars. Whether you were getting into trouble for throwing paper aeroplanes about the classroom, or skiving off to go and skim stones and the lake, there are people out there who will offer you fame and adulation for your skills.

We’re not making this up, there are genuinely people out there competing on an international level to be:

The World’s Best Paper Aeroplane Thrower

Paper aeroplanes have always had a limited number of real world applications. They can be used to execute drone strikes against the back of a maths teacher’s head. They can be used to tell Cassandra Gunderson that your friend fancies her. They can be used to tell Tim Finch that he’s a total bum head.

The ability to create a craft that can deliver “YOU AR A BUMHEAD, SINED EVRYONE” to Tim Finch with absolute precision is a skill that you wouldn’t think would have much use in the grown-up, adult world, because we have email now.

Red Bull disagrees. Red Bull, with their “gives you wings slogan” will these days sponsor literally anything that has wings or goes up real high. Sometimes it’s the Red Bulll Flugtag, where people who have built human-powered flying contraptions jump off a pier and crash unceremoniously into the water. Sometimes it’s the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, which is much what it sounds like, and sometimes it’s simply strapping a guy into a capsule attached to a balloon, waiting until the balloon gets into space, and then telling him to jump out.

But at the less adventurous end of the spectrum there is the Red Bull Paperwings event. The competition has qualifying heats across the world, with the final taking place inside a gigantic aircraft hangar in Austria. The rules for the competition are comprehensive and detailed. The competition must take place in doors. The places must be made out of the approved, officially provided paper. For the longest airtime distance division you aren’t allowed any run-up or ramps before launch.

Check out this video to see just how well the planes perform.

Rock Paper Scissors Championship

While to some rock paper scissors may seem no more skilful than tossing a coin, the true practitioner knows it’s a game of psychology and deception. As you each rise and drop your fist three times the thoughts are running through your brain “Is he going to do scissors? Yeah, he did that last time, so I’ll do stone, but he knows I know that so he’ll probably go for paper, so maybe I should go for stone to trip him up, no wait, that’s just what he’d expect me to think AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH fuckit SCISSORS!”

Now imagine that instead of this game of wits and subterfuge being played for the right to sit in the front passenger seat on a long car journey, you were playing it for £10,000. The competition is overseen by the World RPS Society, which is a real thing that actually exists and I didn’t just make it up. No, really. The society even gives handy hints on how to beat anyone at Rock Paper Scissors, and just in case you think they’re pulling all this out of their backsides, I just did an informal experiment and totally defeated my boss at Rock Paper Scissors using their tips just now.

Staring Contests

For people who find the Rock Paper Scissors is too adrenalin filled, and who faced with their imminent mortality feel like they have just too much time on their hands, there is the staring contest.

Simply look into someone else’s eyes, and see who can keep going longest without blinking. Your eyes get dry, you desperately want to blink, and the guy whose eyes you’re staring into keeps licking his lips and touching his balls. It can quickly turn into a hell, a war of attrition where the loser feels his sanity consumed by the eyes of the winner. The Stare Master travelling live action game show started as a sarcastic joke in a bar.

Founder Sean Linezo says, “We were three people in a bar all night long talking about how nothing was happening,” he said. “There was no do-it-yourself art, no local culture. So we decided to exploit this nothingness, invert boredom and create excitement.”

Today the competition has travelled to Miami, New Orleans, Tallahassee, San Francisco, New York and plans to hit Europe and Asia. It features excited sports commentators narrating the thrilling twists and turns of two people sitting, starting at each other without moving or making any noise. While “Eye of the Tiger” plays in the background.

As hobbies go, at least it’s better than stamp collecting.

Attached Images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

Chris Farnell is a freelance writer and badass who will out-stare you, out paper-aeroplane you, beat you at rock paper scissors and then kick your ass at Pooh Sticks.