Don't pay attention to the melodramatic title: the Gamer's Gauntlet is not some nerd's nefarious recreation of D&D. It instead refers to a theoretical amalgam, if you will, of people who've shared gaming experiences, in this case the Mass Effect Universe, that I've recorded - including my own - while digging through various forums and chat sites, conversations, whatever.

Those who ascribe to a particular Gamer's Gauntlet don't always have the same ideals or opinions, although some will be commonly-held amongst a significant portion. But what's most important about this pointless grade school philosophizing of mine is that the Gamer's Gauntlet, as a compendium of people's opinions- of all spectrum, professional and unprofessional - and expectations centered around the knowledge gained by these experiences, sets the standards not only for the game, but also for how that game and all related to it are perceived. Imagine any gaming franchise with successful sequels (Assassin's Creed 2) and unsuccessful ones (Crackdown 2) as an example.

The views of those in a particular Gamer's Gauntlet are tied together by a shared gaming experience, although not always similar in quality. This quality, especially in the case of Mass Effect, certainly breeds many opinions, and in the severest cases, criticisms or praise rooted in dichotomies, from incendiary debates over story inconsistencies to theories and wild predictions about major game play components. But such is to be expected, for as Samara said, you can put three people together and "there will be six opinions."

Imagine then, hundreds if not thousands sharing their input! In the case of the Mass Effect franchise, with its legion(no pun intended) of followers, such input is invaluable, especially as much of the ME2 discussions focus increasingly on theories surrounding the third game. These varied ideas, opinions, compliments, and gripes form the bulk of the challenges the developers must face in order to achieve success, and these are no less minor when a series is critically acclaimed. As a result, I've come to an interesting conclusion: based on what I've observed, Bioware's final entry has a steep hill to climb, a hill littered with occasionally extreme expectations, game play and otherwise. The aim of this blog is to speculate whether Bioware can satisfy their rabid fans without sacrificing the soul of their franchise and offer my own speculations on possible solutions that can help them avoid succumbing to the pressures of familiarity.