Resources in gaming, or how many torches are in your knapsack?

I've been thinking about a game that I'm designing relating to the birth of the computer industry. One of the things that I'm wrestling with is how far to abstract the machine(s) that the folks are developing. On one hand I could make these extremely technical, where each piece of the machine is carefully calculated to make almost simulationist detail. That would fit for a game that centers around the machine. But the design I have in mind is more about the struggles of the individuals who are brought together with a common goal of making not only the computer but the company that supports it while navigating the wider market. To me that's a more interesting story than the machine itself.

That got me thinking about resources and abstraction in other games. In many dungeon-crawler type games (think Dungeons & Dragons) they have resources that the characters use like torches, rations, and the like. One of the unwritten rules of D&D is that sometimes folks don't pay attention to the number of torches and rations they have. Some groups go to great lengths to simulate the torches and rations (the game Torchbearer went to considerable lengths to keep the resource management as part of the game, to grueling effect).

There's no right answer to the question of resource management in games (unless you're doing modern board game design, at which point it seems every game is an exercise in grueling resource management, but that's a snarky post for another time). It just depends on where the game designer and the folks playing the game want to put their focus. Not every group or game requires the level of detail of figuring out how many minutes a torch can provide light. Abstractions can work wonders for a game design (or even flat-out ignoring an aspect of an abstraction).

Sometimes we need to take a step back in our designs to determine what is important. Not everything needs to be a complete simulation of the world we're trying to model.