My way of checking the play might be little different(not saying its correct).
My worry, regarding play, is can the engine move without anyone touching the wheel. So by grabbing the engine with a heavy duty grip when on trailer and trying to rock it from side to side.
On most cable system there is some play and you can move the engine, more or less pending on the system.
If there is even a tiny bit of air in the hydraulic system, there will also be some play. When no air, no play what so ever using this "test" method.
When changing direction from the wheel on a hydraulic system, there i kind of a dead
spot( due to valve switch over i guess) but not sure would call it a play as don't think there is a free movement in the engine end(like in a cheap cable system), its more like a delay?
fun on a boat is inversely proportional to size...sort of anyway