Your games and mine sound similar. I play with video gamers and boardgame/magic players. Most of them spend a fair amount of time building a character like they're building a magic deck or looking at the maps imagining it as some board game. One of the guys is looser, but still finds ways to min-max certain things. He likes to play games like Civ where he calculates how to win the game managing resources. Groups would probably be easier to run if they were like Matt Mercer's group who thinks creatively with a stronger emphasis on story than mechanics.My experience is the same, with the notable exception of 4E (for the reasons I've detailed upthread. Or was it a different thread? Lots of threads.)
Are you me?
I didn't DM PF1 because I had already given up on 3.5 - precisely for this exact reason.
I like to write. I play these games more for story. I like mechanics that are challenging because a story without real danger or a challenge isn't much of a story. I do like to apply the rules if they make sense, though I won't get caught up in them at the expense of narrative flow.