5 [noncount] : the state of being active or having an effect
the play of market forces
She promotes the free play of ideas in her classroom.
I also found some examples from the COCA.
" Battle is the raucous transformer of history, " Hanson observes, " because it also accelerates in a matter of minutes the usually longer play of chance, skill, and fate? "
Indeed, the virtuosity evident in the variety of work in this exhibition, the multiplicity of techniques represented, the kaleidoscopic play of imagination reflected in the forms, lines, colors and textures all attest to the remarkable vitality of this workshop tradition presided over by Chunghi Choo as benevolent muse, and to the continuing mutual support which this teacher and these artists provide for one another.
I have checked this thread regarding “at play”. https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/76476/is-the-usage-of-at-play-limited-to-children-s-action
One post says:
As noted in etymonline's entry for the noun play, «Meaning "free or unimpeded movement" is from 1650s.» This meaning of play is seen in wiktionary's sense 9 of noun play, "The extent to which a part of a mechanism can move freely"
Could you explain the connotation of “play” in these contexts? Does it have a whimsical and light-hearted feel?