I'd like to ask a question that's been brewing for a while. A lot of the answers and comments on this site seem to be from people who play 4e and are insistent that the right way/only way/best way to play 4e is from a gamist perspective - in other words, the game rules come first, above the in-game fiction, story concerns, DM calls, et cetera. Also can be defined as "powergamer focused." Characterized by 1) the game's rules come over and above the need for activities to make sense in the fictional world of the game, 2) the game's rules come over the ability of the GM to make ad hoc rulings, house rules, etc.
Many posts here have aggressively stated that this is how you "should be" playing the game. This confuses me, because though I know this is a common criticism of 4e I've also seen articles passionately defending that you can use 4e as well as anything else for immersive roleplaying in a fictional world. So I'm interested in what the community, especially those who play 4e, have to say on the topic.
Should or must D&D 4e be played in this way? Does the game not work if subjected to house rules, hand-waving, fudging rolls to fit the story, and other such tampering to suit other creative agendas? It just seems to me that must be somewhat unusual because I can't think of any other RPGs I'd make that claim about. Well, maybe Champions, but even there sometimes there's advice for genre simulation to win out over the exact rules as written.
I know "system does matter" and all, but there's a difference between does 4e as written just tend somewhat towards this mode of employ, versus is it totally unsuitable/does it break down if tried to be uses for simulation or storytelling kinds of play? You can of course try to bring any playstyle to any game, but does 4e lean so far away from playstyles other than gamist that it's a losing battle? I see a lot of answers here on the site that really, really pressure people about "rules over fiction" being "the right way" to play D&D 4e and I kinda just wanted an explicit vote on whether that's the commonly held wisdom or not.
The comments in the answer here Item slots for mounts - "4e is much more game that simulation," "Not an accurate reflection of reality but... WotC.. game balance." I made the same claim myself and got the most upvotes here: How much (if any) force does Tenser's Floating Disk transfer to ground?. Another example is the "simulation is boring don't do that in 4e" of How do I adjudicate the natural tendency for hikers to spread in D&D 4e?
I know that this might be a controversial topic so here's what I'm going to do. "Mod voice is on."
First of all, zero tolerance for anyone flaming anyone else; flags will be immediately acted upon in a vigorous manner. You are not here to argue against other people's answers, you are here to provide your own answer and support it. Don't argue with people, get heated, etc. No back and forth in the comments - you can edit your own answers and comments. If people bring up points, refine your previous postings to fit or don't if you disagree.
Secondly, I'd appreciate it if you could designate whether you play 4e or not and pile onto different answers designated with that distinction. It would be nice to see "I play 4e and no, you can't" separately from "I haven't played 4e and think you can't" - I don't want to go so far as to say "if you don't play 4e, don't answer/vote," but I would consider an answer a lot more authoritative coming from the players of the game. Also please answer from the viewpoint of REAL PERSONAL GAMEPLAY EXPERIENCE where possible. Opinions are hard to take as authoritative and are what start pushing a question to "bad subjective" land.
In this question there is no need to a) "defend" 4e, b) attack 3e, or c) otherwise be off topic... Just share your experiences with running 4e and whether it is mostly rules-first or if and how much fiction-first works with it please. This isn't a comparison or criticism.