I know exactly what you mean.
For hardcore gamers who've been playing for a long time, things stop surprising you. The games become predictable, you know how to beat the system so the system is constantly on your mind. When there's someone to save you don't think, "I just saved someone, I feel like such a hero" it's, "yay, I just earned more good points."
Games need to surprise, to make us feel things beyond the numbers and the stats. I guess where I disagree with you is that they still do that for me despite the fact that I consider myself a hardcore gamer. It isn't as common as it used to be, but every now and then I'll happen across a gem of a game that makes me feel the way I should because it isn't so predictable, rigorous, or choreographed.
I've played much better games this year than Deadly Premonition. Seen better graphics, control schemes, longer experiences, more immersiveness, but nothing struck me quite the same as it has this year. It has that creative magic that brings you into the story and experience in a way that few games still do (2008 Fallout 3 was the title that did it for me, 2009 I can't recall anything that had that effect).