It is a war between self-identifying "gamers" and video game critics. And like most wars it is chaotic, damaging and depressing.
It has been brewing for years, and for a number of reasons. The key is that over the last decade, games have progressed from being seen as a geeky pastime for adolescent boys, to being understood and appreciated as a complex and significant artform. When I started writing about these things in 1995, video game journalism was still in its infancy ? most magazines were like a cross between fanzines and catalogues; they guided fans toward the games they should purchase. They often did this with style and humor, but they knew their audience ? predominantly young males. Everyone knew where they stood.
But then two things happened. The rise of the internet brought digital distribution and brand new communication channels. Suddenly, lone game designers with subjective and offbeat ideas were able to reach a global audience by making their titles available online. And the rise of blogging culture meant that new and idiosyncratic voices could be heard. Games magazines no longer had a stranglehold on the dissemination of games criticism. Add in the arrival of online forums and discussion sites, and the birth of social media, and we had a new age in which critics, communities and developers were engaging with each other much more closely. Looking back, that was a powder keg waiting for a match.