[…] most of the time people who like this kind of experience simply love the theme so much that they will sacrifice cleanliness, elegance, and game length to privilege the simulation of reality.
Quotes about theme
It’s funny how some people like games to be “about” something while others have no such desire. […] For me, a game doesn’t have to be about anything other than itself. I think of thematic games as being theatrical: the players seem to be wanting not only to play a game but also to play a role in a dramatic representation of some aspect of real life. Personally I’m quite happy with being who I am, and who I am is somebody who enjoys rising to the challenge of problem-solving in spatial and mathematical relationships.
Theme is more than window dressing, and less than fanatical immersion. To be true to theme, a design should strive to capture the essence of the setting or construct by creating a system in which players naturally adopt behaviors that fit their circumstances. Success is when a player is surprised to act in a way that is not in keeping with their real life personality, as though it were normal.