the role of the noun 'playing' is to refer to the act of engaging in some type of game or activity. This could refer to an actual game like soccer or chess, or to some other type of activity such as performing music or a sport.
It takes the place of the main subject of a sentence, when the activity or game being referred to is the focus of the sentence. It will almost always be preceded by the article 'the' or an adverb such as 'competitive'.
1. The playing of games has been a popular pastime for generations.
2. Grace has enjoyed competitive playing for many years.
When using 'playing' as a noun, be sure to pair it with a qualifying adjective or noun, such as 'competitive' or 'chess', to make the sentence clearer. Additionally, when describing activities, it is more common to use the gerund form '-ing' rather than the infinitive '-to'.