Print and Play is when you make your own copy of the game. Now, I don't mean you designed the game yourself. I mean that you simply craft your own copy of the game that somebody else designed.
And nor do I mean that you pirate a copy of a game in order to avoid making sure that people don't get royalties. Many games exist only in print and play form and many companies will cheerfully sell you PDFs so that you can make your own copy. On top of that, there are hobby designers who will happily post files of their games so that people can make them.
There are literally hundreds of games out there that are free for you to make.
Of course, when I say free, I mean you don't have to pay the designer or the publisher anything. You still have to go through the time and the effort and material costs of making the game. And, while there are some PnP that are well worth all that, there are also some that are just junk.
(To be fair, you can also spend good money on games that are junk)
Despite that, it's something that I have been interested in for a good many years. And, since I have been working on breaking my bad habit of binge buying games, it's become more of a focus for the collector side of my hobby.
Mind you, I don't make a lot of the games that I look into. Although, if I actually bought the game, then I'm a whole lot more likely to actually make it. Kind of amusing, when you consider one of the initial draws PnP was that it was technically free. Still, there is the desire to get value out of something that you have actually paid for and there's a stronger likelihood that the game has been more heavily play tested.
Still, having electronic folders of print and play designs definitely has helped keep me from finding a bunch of new games. It satisfies my collecting itch.
While it is still a niche part of the gaming hobby, I suspect that print and play is becoming more and more common. The reason for that is simple. Technology.
With a black-and-white laser jet printer, a laminator from Amazon basics, and a paper cutter, it is fairly easy for me to make cards and boards and tokens and tiles. In other words, with some not unreasonable tools that we bought for non-game related purposes, I can make things fairly easily.
(And, yes, when we got them, we knew that I would be using them to make games. But we did get them for other reasons as well)
And PnP is an easy hobby to dabble in. There are some decent games, like Knizia's Decathlon or Pair of Dice's Pagoda, that just require you to print a page and add dice. If you don't mind using a pair of scissors, there are a lot of games that are just a few pages of cards or tiles.
Print and play is a subject I know I'll come back to a lot. It is a quirky world of gaming just off the main road.