I do see your side of it, I too have enjoyed that kind of connection in gaming.
However, for me it does not usually happen in computer games, mostly because when I want to play a computer game I don't want 'waste' my time on 'trivial' details. Actually that's not totally true, but I find that my interest in performing those actions wanes rather quickly, and what matters ultimately are the mechanics of the game.
My favorite game of all time is probably Angband (or one of it's variants) and I *never* play it with a graphical tile set. If you know of it (which I assume you do) then you know that it is a triumph of gameplay over 'glitz'.
Anyway, I'm probably just a bit overwrought about the place that Elemental currently is in its beta, because the 'fun' isn't in yet, so all there is, isn't particularly important to me, because I really don't care how some of these elements are designed, I only care about how the entire package works, and that part hasn't arrived yet.
Consider my 'gripes' just me blowing of steam