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If you had used "Game?" directly instead of "Play?", I think it might have been solved... MAYBE.
The problem is that we don't know the definition of a clue for sure. So if we assume "play" is the definition, we can only verify that by finding an answer that matches it (unless we guess, which sometimes happens ). So we start to build an answer from the rest of the clue. In this instance we try to find a word that ends with something to do with fake land.
Or, in this case, I was leaning more towards "fake land" being the definition and was trying to find an answer that starts with a synonym of "play" and obviously failed.
Well, that's just how my mind approached it anyway, others may see it differently.
Note: Sometimes you can have a "double definition" clue which would start AND end with a definition, but they don't usually have a middle bit, so it's usually pretty obvious when they come up.
Anyway, this is just my opinion, you are free to write the clue however you feel! I just thought I would explain why it was so hard, as you seemed interested in knowing
All opinions are welcome here, especially critical ones. I try to better my understanding.
Anyways thanks for the insight it really helps when you have an analysis of the thing itself, rather than just plain old solutions. I have tried online for such resources but haven't found (admittedly haven't tried too hard), maybe there's something out there with critical analysis of Crosswords' solutions, usually there are one or two examples from each type of clues, which do help in solving but not so much in writing. I guess that is something you can only get good at after solving lots of crosswords.
I really enjoy the riddle part and having the fun of figuring stuff out. Knowing the answer beforehand really screws up with that, not that you don't have fun writing it, it's just that once it is done it is done. No more looking up vague references.