With apologies to Rod Humble and Charles Joseph, I’m believing differently. Mechanics have meaning because of their flavor, not in spite of it. Much the same as in mathematics or the sciences, your tests and data only mean something when put in context of a hypothesis. The stock market only matters because it’s tied to company well-being.
This doesn’t mean mechanics shouldn’t represent their flavor well. Clearly, the stock market wouldn’t be useful if it utilized the U.S. terror color chart, or even a company leaderboard. In fact, and maybe more importantly, this goes both ways. Mechanics provide meaning to flavor just as flavor provides meaning to mechanics.
Is finding the connection between the two where game design stops being a science and becomes an art?