Do you guys remember <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/01/28/mmogs-defy-classification-in-australia/">that whole MMO ratings debacle</a> that occurred in Australia? In short, while all games had to be rated under Australian law, MMOs had somehow slipped under the ratings radar. If they weren't rated, they couldn't be sold on Australian shores. Odd, wasn't it, for a whole genre of games to slip past the ratings committee?<br /> <br /> Well, <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/10/10/mmogs-rated-in-australia-warcraft-a-bit-late-no-sign-of-conan/">that whole conversion of Australian law</a> and the subsequent firestorm was all due to the investigations of our very own <a href="http://www.massively.com/bloggers/tateru-nino">Tateru Nino</a>! Bet you didn't know that! Tateru had stumbled upon the fact that MMO games were all unrated when she had visited her local EB Games to pick up a few titles. As her eyes looked over all of the cases on the wall, she noticed the suspicious lack of a control symbol.<br /> <br /> This lead her to going home and doing some digging, only to find out that it wasn't a simple printing mistake: the government had completely skipped over rating MMOs. And, when asked about it, no one in the upper eschilons of government seemed to know why. Australian law was soon redrafted after Tateru caught the error and broke the story, now rating MMOs like they rate the rest of the games sold on their shores.<br />
<a href="http://www.massively.com/bloggers/kyle-horner">Kyle Horner</a>'s <a href="http://www.massively.com/category/the-digital-continuum/">The Digital Continuum</a> covered a lot of ground this year. From <a href="http://www.startrekonline.com"><em>Star Trek</em></a> to <a href="http://www.swtor.com"><em>SWTOR</em></a>, Kyle covered all bases with his weekly opinion column.<br /> <br /> Of everything that he wrote this year, Kyle has a particular love for this take on the gaming industry's stance on creating horizontal content expansions instead of vertical expansions. Upcoming game expansions like <a href="http://www.ageofconan.com"><em>Age of Conan</em></a>'s <a href="http://www.riseofthegodslayer.com"><em>Rise of the Godslayer</em></a> and <a href="http://www.worldofwarcraft.com"><em>World of Warcraft</em></a>'s <a href="http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/cataclysm"><em>Cataclysm</em></a> are showcasing how a game's content can be redesigned in the early and mid-levels to provide more enjoyment instead of constantly shoveling more levels and endgame content on top of what is already being offered to players.<br /> <br /> Kyle's point in writing this particular column was to point out how going back to edit your former game design shows that you're willing to breathe new life into your game by fixing your old mistakes. Blizzard, for example, has certainly learned much from their years of running <a href="http://www.massively.com/category/world-of-warcraft"><em>Warcraft</em></a>, and it shows in places like Outlands and Northrend. Wouldn't you like the main continents to have as much polish as Northrend does?
If you've stepped into the world of <a href="http://www.eveonline.com"><em>EVE Online</em></a> for more than five minutes, you know that space is a cold and unforgiving mistress. <a href="http://www.massively.com/category/eve-online"><em>EVE</em></a> isn't one of the most user-friendly MMOs out there, simply because of all of the options it offers and how much flexibility you have to do what you want in the world of New Eden. It's hard to know where to start, isn't it?<br /> <br /> Well our resident EVE analyst, <a href="http://www.massively.com/bloggers/brendan-drain">Brendan "Nyphur" Drain</a>, has been on hand all year to teach you how to fly safely in New Eden. Every week on Sunday, Nyphur posts a brand new look into another facet of <em>EVE </em>with his <a href="http://www.massively.com/category/eve-evolved">EVE Evolved</a> column.<br /> <br /> Why just recently he's covered <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/10/11/eve-evolved-running-your-own-corporation/">how to run your own corporation</a>, how to <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/09/27/eve-evolved-corporate-infiltration-for-fun-and-profit/">infiltrate other people's corporations</a> (for fun and profit), what the <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/10/04/eve-evolved-the-council-of-stellar-management/">Council of Interstellar Management</a> is all about, how <a href="http://www.eveonline.com/dominion"><em>Dominion</em></a> is <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/09/20/eve-evolved-the-road-ahead-for-0-0-alliances/">impacting alliances in 0.0 space</a>, had a <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/08/16/eve-evolved-wormhole-piracy-101/">whole series</a> <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/07/26/eve-evolved-just-another-week-in-the-sleepers-den/">dedicated to</a> <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/07/19/eve-evolved-untangling-the-mystery-of-the-sleepers/">wormhole exploration</a> and much much more. So if you're interested in <em>EVE </em>or just curious to learn more about the great sandbox in the sky, EVE Evolved is the place to do it.
This year's break out new feature has certainly been <a href="http://www.massively.com/bloggers/shawn-schuster">Shawn Schuster</a>'s <a href="http://www.massively.com/category/choose-my-adventure">Choose My Adventure</a>, a weekly piece where Shawn plays an MMO and you get to decide what he does and how he does it! Everything from character creation to dungeons to areas to level in are controlled by you, the reader! Shawn reports in each week to say how everything's been going in addition to giving you the ability to vicariously play new MMOs through him.<br /> <br /> Or, if you're already a member of the MMO Shawn's playing, you can jump in and play right along with him and the rest of the Massively.com readers! Each week is filled with specially announced Choose My Adventure play times, where Shawn logs in and joins with a merry band of adventurers to tackle the horrors that lie beyond. What other MMO site gives you the ability to control how a person plays in addition to playing along with him? None, I say! None!<br /> <br /> Whether you watch or play along, Choose My Adventure is the weekly column where you rule. Don't let it slip by you, as Shawn is starting <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/12/30/choose-my-adventure-fallen-earth/">a brand new adventure</a> in <a href="http://www.fallenearth.com"><i>Fallen Earth</i></a>!
Filling out our top five feature articles are a pair of stories that tackle the difficult nature of gender in virtual spaces. <a href="http://www.massively.com/category/anti-aliased">Anti-Aliased</a> tackled two difficult topics this year that drew the attention of many media outlets in the gaming industry at large: My personal story on being a <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/06/24/anti-aliased-virtual-worlds-as-the-great-equalizer">transgendered individual in an online space</a> and my personal takes on <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/11/26/anti-aliased-boobs-and-you/">hyper-sexuality in video games</a>.<br /> <br /> My thoughts from each story have a unique meeting point -- my personal love of how an online space lets you be anyone you want to be. From the appearance of a normal woman to being an Amazon warrior squeezed into a platemail bikini, games let us journey across vastly different landscapes and experience things that are impossible to find in real life. Games let us journey into realms beyond and connect all us across the world for one united purpose -- to have fun.<br /> <br /> Interested in commenting on this article? <a href="http://www.massively.com/2009/12/31/massivelys-top-5-original-features-for-2009/">Drop on by the original post and hit the comment button</a>!