What is the “Social Contract” in a game?

I first read the phrase in Nobilis, but this quote from Mike Holmes breaks it down the best for me:

“…there is one and only one requirement to being able to have a good social contract for play, and that’s an understanding that every player has a right to speak about what they do or do not like as players.”

We’ve been talking a lot more about what we like and what we don’t like in games — I think that’s a really valuable thing to do, and to keep doing.
One thing I remember from one discussion was about the fact that a particular player liked games where folks were working together, or where you didn’t have to worry about the other characters suddenly turning on you.
… and I really have to remember to ask that player about The Shab al-Hiri Roach, because they’re playing it and, as near as I can tell, enjoying it. I’m curious how it manages to slip by that dislike, because I think that’s what’s happening — it’s not that the dislike is GONE — it just doesn’t really APPLY in that case.
Hmm.


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