All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elefant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains makkeable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word. In this, the future is a game; time is one of the rules. Generally, all the best mechanistic games - those which can be played in any sense "perfectly", such as a grid, Prallian scope, 'nkraytle, chess, Farnic dimensions - can be traced to civilisations lacking a realistic view of the universe (let alone the reality). They are also, I might add, invariably pre-machine-sentience societies.
The very first-rank games acknowledge the element of chance, even if they rightly restrict raw luck. To attempt to construct a game on any other lines, no matter how complicated and subtle the rules are, and regardless of the scale and differentiation of the playing volume and the variety of the powers and attibutes of the pieces, is inevitably to schackle oneself to a conspectus which is not merely socially but techno-philosophically lagging several ages behind our own. As a historical exercise it might have some value, As a work of the intellect, it's just a waste of time. If you want to make something old-fashioned, why not build a wooden sailing boat, or a steam engine? They're just as complicated and demanding as a mechanistic game, and you'll keep fit at the same time.
--- in "The Player of Games", Iain M. Banks
Great way of saying it. This is a book I recommend, not only for those that like SciFi, but also for those curious about gaming, game theory, or "different" social/cultural/political scenarios.
Talking about "games like life", I've been playing for quite a while an interesting web-based game called "eRepublik", and Ihave some invites, so if you want one just drop me a line. I hope I'll manage to write an extensive article about this game, but for now I'll just sum it up: A new world, with social issues, political issues, and virtually complete freedom to evolve. Here, you can be a polititian, owner of your company or employee, you have to take care of your wellness, don't forget to have food to eat, and - if you want - try to make the world a better place. Things evolve quite fast there, we're in the verge of "living" the first World War, Portugal is a fascist, almost dictatorial country, Pakistan aims to be the "worldwide country" and subject everyone to their religion, one USA state wants to be independent, India was conquered... Why don't you try out and see for yourself?