"There is no such thing as a player character" is the kind of tagline that gets me into trouble in some places. So is "the emotional connection between player and character that many game makers believe exists in fact does not". Both contain a powerful subtext, questioning everything from a player's sense of identity to the validity of their experiences. Read the wrong way, they can seem to say that all the emotion you feel in playing games is made up.
Of course that's not my intent. When I say "there is no such thing as a player character" I don't mean that there is nothing. When I say play occurs through "dolls", likewise. My intent is to reinterpret the emotional experience of play within a game-native context, and so derive useful insight that could apply to all games. In otherwords, the emotions are real but our way of talking about them is broken.
This is an essay to fully explain this concept, to set what's really going on when most players play games in context, about the importance of identity and self expression. (Warning: this article is over 8000 words in length.)