Looking back as far as history allows, games and toys have been used small physical items to represent real tools, weapons and creatures. One might propose the argument that the use of such abstractions is what allowed humans to develop technology and civilization.
Spare time has always been a marketing opportunity. In the early seventies the first practical video games began to appear in traditional arcades. Tucked between the pinball machines, shooting and racing games, those early video game machines were a turning point in human consciousness. No longer limited to the mechanical laws of physics, gamers had to contend with programs run by electronic computers, faster than any human reflex, programmed to create a virtual "reality" , crude at first, but now extremely sophisticated and seductive. A lot of spare time has been turned to money since then, with computer games now challenging (and blurring the line between) movies, sports and television for the top form of recreational pastime.
So where will it lead? The idea of actually learning a discipline (music, art, writing) which requires a lengthy learning process, seems old-fashioned or even foreign to many young people. Perhaps it never was as widespread as it now seems through the sentimental rear-view mirror of memory. But no matter how complex "modeling programs" become, whether in games or sociology or (shudder) economics, there is always a need for human reasoning and interaction.
The messy stuff. The real stuff dreams are made of.