NationStates is a nation simulation game. Create a nation according to your political ideals and care for its people. Or deliberately oppress them. It's up to you.
Source: The Publisher Website.
Jennifer Government: NationStates is a multiplayer nation simulation browser game. It was created by Max Barry and was based loosely on his novel Jennifer Government. The game is expanded by users using off-site forums to construct centres of learning, discussion and play.
The object of the game is to lead a country in the way the player finds best. At the start of the game, the player chooses a few basic characteristics including country name, flag, motto, currency, national animal and style of government. Answers to the questions in the next page determine the initial ratings of the country's civil, economic and political rights. The nation's population starts at five million and increases every day automatically with play.
Gameplay hinges on deciding government policies: the player is presented with automatically assigned "issues" and chooses a response from a list of options. Players can ignore issues by dismissing them, which has no effect on the nation. All issues have a peculiar characteristic, and no option is the "correct" one. Each usually has a positive and a negative aspect, although the latter is usually highlighted, and both are always exaggerated. Many issues are posed in terms of radical or extremist beliefs, and the accompanying opinions are rarely well-founded. This is for both humorous and didactic reasons: many opinions are extremely funny or ridiculous, and the player learns that there are no perfect ideas which will work in every case. As gameplay progresses, the user learns that each of the options provided for the proposed issues become more ridiculous and offer no stability to the nationstate. Although this is a simulation game of creating your own nation, the responses are often unrealistic and do not provide many middle-ground options to resolve the issues. Instead, the issues are used to drastically change your nation's economic, political, or social beliefs. As a whole, the issues do not directly relate to real-life situations but rather a more Barry-like nation-state as presented in Jennifer Government.
There are occasional "Easter Egg" issues, such as one that dealt with piracy on the high seas, released to everyone on International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Other special issues appear after nations have achieved certain population-growth requirements, allowing players to choose a leader, capital city and national religion.
The player's responses to issues (except for dismissals) affect the nation's status in three main factors: the level of Political Freedoms, Civil Rights and the strength of the Economy. Decisions can also affect other aspects of the nation, such as the crime rate, industry strength and public sector spending.
Based on the nation's personal, economic, and political freedoms, the nation is assigned to one of 27 government types, from Scandinavian Liberal Paradise and Capitalist Paradise to Corporate Police State and Psychotic Dictatorship. The "other variables" are used to compile the game's daily World Census Reports (formerly the "United Nations Reports"), which list every nation in the game in order of their rank in that day's chosen variable, such as Largest Manufacturing Industry, Largest Soda Pop Sector, Highest Unemployment, Safest Nations, Most Rebellious Youth, even Most Avoided Nations. The reports also group nations according to region, so a nation may be described on their main page as "1st in the region and 94th in the World for Smartest Citizens."
The nation's main page briefly describes the population, government, economy, that day's World Census ranking and latest policy decisions resulting from the player's choices. The 'National Happenings' section at the bottom of the page shows ten of the most recent events, which includes World Assembly activities and changes to the nation's characteristics (e.g. Motto, Currency, etc.).
Each decision passed through legislature will eventually have an impact on each attribute. Nations tend to lean heavily on decisions that involve the country's economic status. Unlike the benefits derived from higher Economy levels, having "Excessive" or "Frightening" Civil Rights is not necessarily a good thing, since the nation's government would be lacking control and requiring some kind of reform. World Benchmark would be considered the best ranking that can be achieved. The same applies for Political Freedoms.
Players may voluntarily join the NationStates World Assembly (abbr. WA), making their nations automatically affected by the decisions of that body. However, various players role-play disobedience. Discussions on draft/proposed resolutions take place on the forums, often home to all manner of political debate.
The World Assembly was known as the United Nations before 1 April 2008. On that day, the fictional organization was renamed in response to a cease-and-desist order from the actual United Nations.Though initially believed to be an April Fools Day joke, the legal complaint was revealed to be real the next day. References to the "United Nations" or the "UN" were universally replaced on the official website, but remained in old forum posts and some fan-operated websites.
Since May 2009, the World Assembly has had the power to "commend" or "condemn" specific nations or regions. The new feature, apparently intended for out-of-character recognition of players rather than the nations or regions they play, has been criticized by players for "breaking the fourth wall" and thus running contrary to current rules dictating what proposals can legally be submitted to the WA.
Nations are grouped into regions. New players begin in one of five Pacific regions (and resurrected nations begin in Lazarus, Osiris or Balder) and may move their nations into any other region at any time, or set up their own. Many regions have an elected leader, or Regional WA Delegate, and some participate in complex regional governments, though some contain only a handful of nations.
Players occasionally attempt to collectively "invade" another region by entering it and seizing control of the regional Delegacy, though it may be hard to garner and coordinate support. Within the game, this process is called "raiding". Some regions have password protection to stave off such attacks, but this presents a problem of getting new members to join the region and a small risk of a spy infiltrating the region. Many multi-regional organizations have formed - either to organize invasions or to organize those who defend against raider play.
Invading, "raiding", or "region crashing" first became prominent with a group of players calling themselves the Farkers (now referred to as invaders or raiders), who all arrived from links between the game and the website Fark.com. Steps have been taken to reduce region-crashing and griefing while regulating the more benign invasion types. In order for one nation to eject another from the region, it must have a specific amount of "influence", which is partly derived from that nation's length of residency within the region. This helps ensure that invaders do not flood a region, install one of their own as WA Delegate, and then eject the original members from the region. These regulations have been heavily praised, although others greatly opposed it and claimed that it ruined the game experience.
NationStates' relatively simple simulation has given rise to more in-depth and freeform role-playing, with players using their nations' statistics to measure how their nations would fare in international trade, diplomacy, and war. Some players have even developed complex statistical calculators. Part of the appeal of NationStates lies in the ability to create an unrealistic utopia (or dystopia) as the subject of conversation and political philosophy, without needing to worry about practical matters, like national defense, that might become factors in a more comprehensive simulation. Many players do tend to play realistically and maintain at least sensibly constructed economies.
Source: Wikipedia, "Jennifer Government: NationStates", available under the CC-BY-SA License.