I have been thinking about the issue of privileging play and how it unfolds in different cultures, if at all. I recall stories of my father as a young child going heading out to the beach with his brothers, searching and foraging for snails or any molluscs that they can find. Dad seemed to enjoy himself immensely, and one might think that this event might be considered play from his perspective. However, the reality of the situation was that while it was fun, the reason why Dad was by the beach was to look for food.
In contrast, when talking to my late grandfather, I do not ever recall of him thinking of such activity as fun (he would scoff I think). This is largely because to Grandpa, actions that had no bearing on the future or others are nothing but indulgence. Don't get me wrong, he was a loving man who had a wry sense of humor. But his life experiences shaped his outlook on life. Life as a fisherman taking care of 8 children by himself (Grandma died when Dad was 6) was challenging, then life under/working with the British, then occupation under the Japanese... suffice to say, life was definitely eventful. No play is death some say ... but I do not believe that. Grandpa's life was fulfilling and he was happy and contented. Play may not be central to his life, but when one is focused on surviving, this is not unsurprising. I guess my point is to simply be careful of claims that we make about the necessity of play, less it tramples on the lives of others. It is an activity that may be definitive in some life courses, but not all. And to say that we all need play to survive sometimes does not feel right.