I suppose age has a lot to do with many of the things we do/think today. There was a time where I believed any well-regarded critic was pretentious for what he or she said about new releases in their respected medium. Although this was many moons ago, I use to think saying "This game is good" with a different number of exclamation points was enough to convey how I truly felt about the game. How times have changed.
The internet and technology in general, is the ultimate example of the term 'double-edged sword'. While a simple internet connection and computer has caused some relationships to fall apart (you can even find videos of girlfriends deleting their boyfriend's WoW characters), it is also the quintessential hub for gaming enthusiasts to discuss, sometimes troll, upcoming and released games. It's in these discussions that 'true gamers' often wish to critically analyze a certain topic in order to get a deeper understanding, oftentimes appreciation for those games.
What makes the idea of staunch criticism in today's age so enjoyable is the split-second streaming of your desires, complaints, and praises of the various aspects revolving around the discussed title. The community, depending on the quality of the posters, can respectfully agree or disagree with your statements, which in turn allows for general discussion, including developers and publishers, to be viewed by anyone on that website. What makes the strictest of critics and communities the best out there is that they've come to one realization: no mortal's artistic endeavor will be ever be perfect.
With the requisite for each household to have an internet connection, we also have one more person either voicing their opinion or having it be observed by someone else-with a different opinion, usually being written in ink. Having regarded that fact, I realize that I'm in a similar position to every writer that was once a literary critic, disregarding the fact that I'm not hired by a publication, newspaper, etc. In order for dreaming literary writers to become what they are, they examine and criticize other works in order to show their understanding of the craft. Technically, it's more than likely that the ratio for every person to have examined another's work to creating their own is AT LEAST 2:1. That ratio is even more inclined when it comes the most respectable of reviewers (perhaps 1,000:1 or more for some critics).
Dozens of popular writers have been called delusional, jealous, etc. for their scathing criticism of someone else's work (resemble another medium you know?). But it's in the harsh criticisms of games/movies/books that I see the critic’s passion for what aspects fuel his or her love for that specific medium. Although I sometimes think critics using 'big words' to make a scathing or praising review can be full of hot air, I don't think that happens as often anymore. To view it from their perspective, I think it's fair to believe they respect the craft so much, that they're willing to go the distance in order to properly convey an artist's work in the medium they enjoy so much. I also believe that said critic is trying to discover why they liked that movie/book/game so much. Were their allegories on human nature involved? What made it so entertaining? As someone who's recently found enjoyment in reviewing games, I think it's fair to say that criticism that COULD come off as pretentious is really just displaying said critics' attempt to make their praise or discontent as original as possible, because they truly enjoy the medium.
To summarize why criticizing games has caused me to love them more:
It allows me to portray an anonymous honesty about the game, which in turn allows for more discussion with the anonymous community; it shows that I, and others in the community, have a great understanding and passion for the medium; and it gives a helping hand to our next generation of great creators.