It is from Crash Course Astronomy. It was used at around the 6th minute and 45th second. Here it goes:

There're a lot of assumptions built into this idea, of course. One is that, well, aliens exist. The next is that they are more technologically advanced than we are. But that makes sense. Any aliens that don't have tech can't communicate with us, so they don't play into this.

What does play into mean there? Could you please rephrase the piece of the text for me?

  • Is this Crash Course ever going to end?? Anyone, aliens without technology is a logical impossibility. Play into this here means: they are not in the picture here. It's pretty badly written.
    – Lambie
    Mar 5, 2018 at 19:47
  • This is the last episode Mar 5, 2018 at 21:09

2 Answers 2


I think this is a slightly nonstandard use of "play into", actually. Play into usually means something like "support" or "contribute", as in

The latest evidence plays into the theory that the crash was caused by bad weather.

But this author seems to be using it to mean something like "figure into". We could rephrase his sentence as

Any aliens that don't have tech can't communicate with us, so they are not part of this discussion.

That's not entirely different from "contribute", but it does have a slightly different sense.


The following sentence may help to understand the meaning of play into as a phrasal verb:

We worry for our own and our children's education because it plays into life chances and survival.

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