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I guess we should first ask the question; are we playing a game because it's mechanics are fun or because it has a great story? If the mechanics are why you are playing that game then optimization is clearly not a bad thing... on the other hand if it's the story you wish to play through then yes optimization is horrible toward the experience.
I am reminded of Star Wars: the Old Republic MMO. It has eight fully developed story paths and it is built on a rather typical MMO mechanic system. I started playing it when it went free play and I fell in love with a couple of the excellent stories; BUT I always had the horrible grinding mechanic common to MMOs getting in my way of enjoying the story. Eventually I gave up trying to experience those stories and it makes me sad, but it wasn't worth it to plow through countless hours of grinding to level just so I could play through the next chapter. In this case you DEFINITELY have mechanics getting in the way.
In a game like Civilization V however the story is clearly NOT why I play the game; I play for the mechanics here. It really doesn't even have a story beyond the vague story of your civilizations rise or fall.
I agree. To me the game is the mechanics. You can attach a story to several different mechanics, and the story might need some tweeking, but on many occasions the story can remain true to itself. If I say we are playing Pathfinder people will assume I am using the d20 rule set. If I run the same story, and I say we are playing Pathfinder, but I use the ruleset for Shadowrun the players will likely accuse me of false advertising.
PS: I also hate grinding. I am playing final fantasy 1 for the NES, and I want to advance the plot. To make this easier I am using a cheat which gives me more XP than normal, and does not split XP between party members.