Quake, an early example of honest-to-God 3D gaming (and not the 2.5D skewing-and-billboard Wolfenstein clones) was among the first to begin the modern gamer’s training to recognize small deltas in position, rotation, and scale as markers that the action in their vicinity was about to change. It was an exercise of surprisingly complex pattern recognition.
The human brain is tuned to a fine nuance at 60 Hz, and the difference of a few degrees of any game entity can clue a wired brain off to a potential perceived future. You know the columns and stairways and arches of a place, and it is wired into the mind to accept a sudden breaking of any of those planes as the signal that something is about to go down.
It can happen in elements of a fraction of an inch: spotting a gun muzzle telegraphing around a corner, or a subtle color shift in the otherwise unbroken pattern of a wall – the difference of just a few pixels marks the transition from the static world to the dynamic world.
What’s our text-based equivalent?
You hear a sound to the south!
A notification of the above kind is chunky, not gritty; even though it can still maintain the appropriate “don’t open that door” aesthetic, the abstract notion of “south” leaves to the first-person-shooter mind an unsettling notion that for all the liberties taken with licensing, this is not a similar game to its spiritual parent at all.