"...to the rules of the game".
This line is quoted in Thinking in Systems by Donella H. Meadows.
Everything is a game. Not in that it should be trivialised, but that modeling the world around us in terms of a game can help us "play" it better.
Or, at least gain some power or control of the "games" we may find ourselves in.
Politics, Corporations, Police, Local Council, Parking tickets, Taxes, Insurance.
They all have elements of a game, to be played.
Why even look at the world like this?
It's not the only way of looking at the world, but it's an option.
Mapping the world around us onto a game we can model, understand the players, the goals, the motivations and ultimately the rules, can give us a sense of control and certainty about the factors and push and pull at our lives.
The world we live in involves some very complex things, interacting with other complex things and before we know what's happening a lot of things are just happening "to us".
But like any complex equation, or problem, the first thing you want to do is to break it down into smaller, more managable, simple parts.
And in these smaller, simpler parts, we can solve them. One by one, and slowly but surely back into a fully working model of our original problem.
We have figured out the "game".
Senator Dianne Feinstein famous quote (commonly misattributed to Albert Einstein) says:
"You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else"
Sure, the dangers of treating everything like a game is that people trivialize real-life harm and outcomes for real-life people.
And of course a model of real-life will never be real-life, so we take these models or games with some humility, and a lot of respect.
So, why do we need to play these games?
Much like organizational politics, they will happen and have an effect on you whether you're aware of them, or engage in them, or not.
When they say "Don't hate the player, hate the game", it's because it's understood we're all in a game- and you should look beyond the player, if you want to be successful in the game.