I think this doesn't quite capture what it is like in practice. I feel like people use Mother-May-I as a bit of a rhetorical bludgeon to argue against a play style. To me, at the table this does not feel like a social negotiation at all. Because the players are not sitting there advocating for a particular outcome. They are trying to do things in the setting through their characters. The game begins with a simple question: what do you do? The players say what they want to do, and the GM simply decides, given what information is available to him or her concerning the location, NPCs, involved, etc what the natural outcome of that might be. But mother may I suggests the players are sitting there asking if they can do something until the GM says yes. It isn't this binary or pre-planned. And it isn't as if mechanics never come into. If the players try something and that leads to a battle for example, the mechanics get involved. If the players try something and the GM decides it requires the use a particular skill, the mechanics get involved. What this sort of game doesn't typically have are mechanics for handling GM rulings and judgements. In my mind this is generally a good thing. It is not needed in every system. But for me the advantage RPGs have always had over other types of games (including computer games) is you have a human there who can consider any requested action and think through what might actually occur as a result, which creates this sense of being in a real place. That said, many things can inform a GMs rulings and judgements, including genre physics.If there's no mechanical/rules-based method to resolve the presented complications, then the end result is nothing more than "direct social negotiation." If there's no way for the game mechanics to enter into the resolution process of the stated complications, than gameplay devolves to little more than the GM answering a series of questions: "Do I like this idea? Does it sound fun in context of the game? From a coherence and plausibility standpoint, will implementing this idea transform the fiction into an acceptable result state? Will the other players also find that result state acceptable?"