Mechanisms as Abstraction
Mechanisms abstract the thing they describe or simulate.
This can be done to speed up play, or to make something complex more easily grasped.
- The number of factors that go into a fight are too many to simulate or describe - so we abstract.
- Buying many individual items takes time which isn’t always going to be fun - so we abstract.
Abstraction requires the loss of detail.
The things you don’t abstract are the meat of the game.
This is why games* aren’t about what their mechanisms are about - or, if you insist, don’t have to be. Leaving the gap for something to be approached in more detail and nuance gives that thing more primacy.
*In truth, this is talking about game books - the game, the thing that happens up to the table, is an entirely different thing which encapsulates and supersedes the book.