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Chris Crawford on Game Design by Chris Crawford

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Play Is Metaphorical

All play in some sense represents something from the non-play universe. We often confuse this metaphorical aspect of play as simulation. Play is not necessarily a simulation of anything in particular, but it does generate mental associations with real-world issues. In many cases, those associations are in fact generated by means of simulation. For example, a flight simulation allows us to play at flying, and it does so by presenting us with a careful simulation of the experience of piloting an aircraft. But simulation is a small part of a larger picture; metaphor is the broader term that more completely expresses this aspect of the nature of play.

A good example of this is provided by the series of combat flight simulators ...

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