In a high-stakes cooperative survival game, self-interested behaviours reward the individual in the short-term but may have a detrimental impact on the collective in the long-term. Such situations can be solved by introducing social contracts between players that reduce the set of possible actions. In the absence of an empowered authority capable of enforcement, however, a player will only uphold such a contract so long as they believe that the other players will do the same. We term this buy-in. In this context, we envision a cooperative survival game that extends the scope of the ‘conventional’ Mexican standoff (a three-player Hawk-Dove game) to n-players, from which we design and implement a self-organising multiagent system. We devise a set of experiments across varying degrees of initial buy-in and examine its impact on social contracts and the voluntary restriction of self-interest. In particular, we show that there is a cyclical, non-transitive dependency between the three that is both ring-reinforcing and critical for systemic stability.

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