Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In Game Social Contracts

On Monday we talked about some basic social contracts that are present for games and, well, general social interaction. Today I want to talk about some of the ones more specific to games. These ones are going to be a bit odd for some I imagine as they are ones that not everyone always follows. Still, they are things to keep in mind as violating them can cause a lot of frustration.

You Agree To Play The Game Being Run
This may seem obvious, but it is often lost in the nuances. For example, I'd imagine most people -especially those who don't GM- saw the bold text and kind of scoffed while saying "well, duh" except the meaning goes deeper than that. If your GM says they want to run a Super Hero game where the players play teen super heroes who are fighting against an established regime, and everyone agrees to that, you don't make someone who goes against that mold. That may sound obvious too, but there is almost one in every group who does this, or wants to do this. Especially in Super Hero games where people are generally fine with the "super" part, but not so much the "hero" part.

Now, obviously, there is some leeway in these games and GMs can approve/deny characters, but this is still something to think about. Especially when the game seems to be going oddly for you. After all, when the GM is running a more combat heavy game, and everyone but you made combat characters, it isn't the GM's fault that your social monkey has limited chances to apply their skills. And vice versa too.

You Agree To Play In Good Faith
Violations of this contract are generally called cheating. However, it also goes beyond that too. Playing in good faith doesn't just mean following the rules, it also means playing the game and keeping yourself in character as much as possible. Tragically, this is one of the social contracts I've been horrible with of late and for that I can only apologize to the people in my games.

Still, all it takes is one game where everyone stays in character and plays straight - even when horrific things happen to the PCs - to see just how valuable this rule can be.

No Lone Wolves
This one I saved for last, but it is one that most gamers have already ran into. RPGs are a group activity. The stories told are for the group. The story is told in a couple hours of one person "running" the game for the group. Because of all this, playing someone who constantly goes off on their own and does the whole lone wolf thing is a no-no.

Not saying you can't play someone who likes to be alone or is introverted, but they should be willing to work with the group. I mean, c'mon, even Batman and Wolverine work with teams from time to time. Heck, even Spider-Man joined the Avengers eventually and teamed up with other heroes when the need called for it.

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