In a big-think post, Thomas Malaby at Terra Nova argues that games are an approach to the world, a disposition or attitude, and not simply a forgettable activity. If the world is indeed "'shot-through' with contingency," games, and the improvisation they require, have something to teach us about making our way through that uncertainty.
Play is powerful. My take: If science is the way we trace cause-and-effect, play is the way we explore the irreducible nature of experience, capable of bringing forth the atomic elements of wonder, purpose, profundity, restraint and, when the time is right, penetrating insight.
Malaby's Terra Nova post is drawn from a paper of his, "Anthropology and Play: The Contours of Playful Experience," that lives at the Social Science Research Network.