Join 3,563 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Over 2.7 million nations served.
May 9, 2011 2:03 PM   Subscribe

NationStates is a free political simulation game founded by author Max Barry back in 2002 (previously). Loosely based on his dystopian corporate thriller Jennifer Government, the game starts by asking players to provide some national trappings and answer a few civics questions, then generates a virtual country with a matching political outlook. Periodic policy decisions like mining rights and compulsory voting allow players to further modify their country along axes of social, political, and economic freedom, arriving at one of twenty-seven colorful government types like Tyranny By Majority or Scandinavian Liberal Paradise. There's also a healthy roleplaying community -- players can discuss current events in the General forum, practice wargaming in International Incidents, form cooperative Regions to debate internal affairs (many of which form their own communities), and elect Delegates to send to the World Assembly (so renamed after an amusing cease-and-desist from the real-world U.N.). Their collective history is thoroughly recorded in the 35,000-article NSWiki, which provides a detailed legislative record, gameplay guide, and profiles on many of the 90,000 active nations, 8,000 player regions, and countless characters that currently make up the game world.
posted by Rhaomi (62 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
National Animal: Honey Badger
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:06 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Government style: Sensible

The rarest style of all...
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:10 PM on May 9, 2011


Oh man, this is still around? I'm afraid it's a double, from 2003.
posted by luftmensch at 2:12 PM on May 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Derp derp. I see you gave a previously.
posted by luftmensch at 2:13 PM on May 9, 2011


National Currency: The Clam

National Animal: The Clam
posted by brundlefly at 2:14 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Republic of Whelkonia is a fledgling, socially progressive nation, remarkable for its absence of drug laws. Its compassionate, intelligent population of 5 million are fiercely patriotic and enjoy great social equality; they tend to view other, more capitalist countries as somewhat immoral and corrupt.

It is difficult to tell where the omnipresent, socially-minded government stops and the rest of society begins, but it devotes most of its attentions to Social Welfare, with areas such as Law & Order and Religion & Spirituality receiving almost no funds by comparison. The average income tax rate is 49%, but much higher for the wealthy. Private enterprise is illegal, but for those in the know there is a slick and highly efficient black market in Pizza Delivery.

Crime -- especially youth-related -- is totally unknown. Whelkonia's national animal is the Knobbed Whelk, which frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests, and its currency is the Fave.

posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on May 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Oh, this looks amusing. I roleplayed a Hive Mind Collective Conscious dealy when I created my nation, and was immediately rewarded with a nation category of "Psychotic Dictatorship."

Although, it is tough trying to figure how a proper Hive Mind would decide some of the issues. On the Public Nudity question, I went safe and opted for "Compulsory".
posted by logicpunk at 2:27 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


National Animal: Honey Badger

I have been playing for a few months. It is an imagined Socialist utopia run by fabulous drag queens. The Queendom of Ms. Nik Rofelia's national animal is the honey badger.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:30 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, I remember NationStates, I played it when it first came out. Can't remember the name of my country now, but it's probably long deleted and forgotten. I had a whole nuclear war conspiracy thing going on that seemed to confuse my neighbours.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:38 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's certainly about 10,000 times more interesting and has way more staying power than the book on which it was based.
posted by absalom at 2:42 PM on May 9, 2011


I am the Incorporated States of WigglyNoNo, with the national currency being Painful Kicks and the national beast being the wisest of all non-domesticated mammals, the Hawkbilled Platypus.

BTW, need some Painful Kicks? Our hospitals are soon going to offer cash rewards for organ donations!
posted by Samizdata at 2:44 PM on May 9, 2011


The Commonwealth of Omphalopolis, an "Inoffensive Centrist Democracy."

Motto: "If it bleeds, we can kill it."
posted by Navelgazer at 2:46 PM on May 9, 2011


The one time I almost peed my pants at work was because of this game.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 2:50 PM on May 9, 2011


I hope that Max (né Maxx) Barry is getting rich off this somehow, his hilarious and disturbing books keep not getting made into movies – Darren Aronovsky was announced to direct "Machine Man" last October but no news since...
posted by nicwolff at 2:51 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Your nation name appears to contain a naughty word. Please choose a different name."

Hmph, well, you're just going to miss out on the Republic of Fucking.
posted by dubold at 2:56 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


robocop is bleeding: you know you can't get away with just posting that and not telling the story!
posted by en forme de poire at 3:01 PM on May 9, 2011


Crime is relatively low. MikeMcNamara's national animal is the Lucky Seadog, which frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests, and its currency is the 3 Dollar Bill.

I just realized that I'm not sure how free my citizens will actually feel when they realize they live in a country named after one person.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:02 PM on May 9, 2011


bah. nice premise, but the policy choices you're asked to make are often something of a false dilemma (with all options being ludicrous extremes), and the questions themselves end up repeating after a while. played it for a few weeks but then just gave it up. pity, i was quite proud of my Scandinavian Liberal Paradise.
posted by ironjelly at 3:07 PM on May 9, 2011


My first four issues were those of a Uranium Mining Strike, Compulsory Organ Harvesting, whether Voting should be compulsory, and whether or not to ban the Harry Potter books.

Those who know me will know which issue I found most pressing.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:12 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh wow this is really ancient in internet time, what's next, an Earth 2025 retrospective?
posted by Joe Chip at 3:13 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to have one of the top ten largest nations in that game. Then I didn't log in for a month. So now I'm bitter and refuse to start over.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:15 PM on May 9, 2011


Oh lordy, this is still around? Neat! It's been many years since I last visited. My nation was Matabobbyland. It just started to get ridiculous when I had something like 10 BILLION people living in my country. They were all pretty happy, if I recall correctly. At least, that's what my advisers told me. I remember when the site FINALLY got some new issues for users to vote on; I mean, how many times did I have to allow CCTV ("when you're in public, people can see you")? I'm not the most outgoing person, however, so I didn't get involved in any of those forum wars. I probably missed out on some fun there.
posted by frodisaur at 3:18 PM on May 9, 2011


It is pretty old, Joe Chip, but consider the fact that it's three years younger than MeFi (and more active, too).

For furiousxgeorge and other lapsed players: if you can remember the name of your nation, you can restore it, stats and all. Just load the page for an existing nation, replace its name in the URL with yours, and when it says the nation doesn't exist, follow the instructions for recovery. You'll lose the influence you had and be placed in the Lazarus region, but everything else will be as it was.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:22 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


And so was born the Emirate of Wengeronia:

Category: Inoffensive Centrist Democracy


It mysteriously turns out that the...

nonexistent private sector is dominated by the Information Technology industry
posted by philipy at 3:27 PM on May 9, 2011


Thanks, Rhaomi. I can't believe that I just reactivated my country. Guess I was wrong about the population: it was 5.7 billion. My people are all doing fine and they said to say "hi".
posted by frodisaur at 3:46 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to have two nations which I did my best to drive to divergent extremes: one a thriving, happy liberal paradise (I forget the name it gave my government style) and the other kept in the surprisingly hard to maintain category of psychotic dictatorship. It's a great little game, and I expect to spend the next few days wracking my brain to try to recall the names of one our both of them. I'm pretty sure that the dystopia was named after an enzyme mentioned in my thesis, but that still leaves a pretty big field. So... thanks for driving me crazy for at least the next few days?

I never understood the role playing aspect. Is there actually some game structure there through which it's actually possible to influence others (I never sae any sign of this) our is it purely a shared storytelling exercise?
posted by metaBugs at 4:13 PM on May 9, 2011


Oh, I remember this! In 2003 it seemed too complicated and obtuse to me for whatever reason, but it's exactly the kind of thing 2011 me wants to sink her free time into like a big, gooey Pretendlandian smore.

Does anything else like this exist? I know (and love) old Maxis SimWhatevers and I'm aware of the Civilizations but have no idea how they compare. What else is there, in the genre of Imaginary Country Sims?
posted by byanyothername at 4:16 PM on May 9, 2011


I do seem to recall that, once you had a feeling for the authors political stance (pro government intervention, socially very liberal, generally left wing) it was fairly easy to predict what effect the different options would have on your nation. So it's fun, I never escaped the feeling of playing in a world in which one guy's opinion of how government and societies work have been made flesh.
posted by metaBugs at 4:20 PM on May 9, 2011


[posted too soon, sorry]

...In that vein, it'd be interesting to play a game with the same structure, but written by someone with more right-wing values. It'd be a great way to see those different assumptions about how the world does and should work made explicit, and compare the outputs of playing in this world with those of playing in the original, more left-wing one.
posted by metaBugs at 4:26 PM on May 9, 2011


Also, marijuana seems to be legal in my fledgling nation, but exporting cheese is strictly forbidden. I'm trying to think of some kind of justification for that--the Great Dairy Famine of '11? A wider, hateful culture of lactose intolerance?
posted by byanyothername at 4:27 PM on May 9, 2011


byanyothername: "Oh, I remember this! In 2003 it seemed too complicated and obtuse to me for whatever reason, but it's exactly the kind of thing 2011 me wants to sink her free time into like a big, gooey Pretendlandian smore.

Does anything else like this exist? I know (and love) old Maxis SimWhatevers and I'm aware of the Civilizations but have no idea how they compare. What else is there, in the genre of Imaginary Country Sims
"

There's an old game called "Hidden Agenda" that you might be interested in. Gives you control of a fictional Central American country called "Chimerica" that's just had a revolution.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 4:40 PM on May 9, 2011


If you haven't read Jennifer Government, you should. I very-highly recommend it.
posted by andreaazure at 5:18 PM on May 9, 2011


Yeah, I liked the book too, surprised people were bashing it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:33 PM on May 9, 2011


Ah, I spent way too many hours with Hidden Agenda in the early 1990s. Turns out it ran just fine on my WinXP machine when I tried it last year. Author's web site. Abandonware web site where you can download it.
posted by Triplanetary at 5:44 PM on May 9, 2011


I love this, Rhaomi. Thanks.

Max Barry's novel Jennifer Government is a ton of fun, but I'd recommend Syrup or Company over it in a heartbeat. Company I just reread two days ago, actually; it's a satire of corporate workplaces that makes up for being a little bit unoriginal by being relentlessly funny and creative. (I'd compare it to Then We Came To The End by saying that TWCTTE is more "literary" and slightly deeper but not as readable or fun.) Syrup, on the other hand, is one of my all-time favorite novels; it's very short and very quick and most of all it's giddy. I think it may be my most-read novel of all time simply because of what a smooth read it is start to finish. Plus: The main villain's name is Sneaky Pete, and the love interest's name is 6.

(I was just invited to the NationStates region of Metafiltyre, if any of you bean farmers are feeling like manifest destiny.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:51 PM on May 9, 2011


MCMikeNamara Crime is relatively low. MikeMcNamara's national animal is the Lucky Seadog, which frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests, and its currency is the 3 Dollar Bill.

I just realized that I'm not sure how free my citizens will actually feel when they realize they live in a country named after one person.


Err, well, how free do the people of Bolivia feel, do you think? I mean, w.r.t. the sense of freedom regarding country name, not the various repressive political and corporate entities involved in Bolivia?
posted by Arandia at 6:23 PM on May 9, 2011



(I was just invited to the NationStates region of Metafiltyre, if any of you bean farmers are feeling like manifest destiny.)


A fleet of black helicopters just moved the Republic of Red Thoughts there. Let us conquor the virtual globe!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:34 PM on May 9, 2011


So can we newbies trying out out assume metafiltyre is the de facto MeFi region?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:26 PM on May 9, 2011


*starts nation*

*checks telegraph inbox*




oh god this is just eve online without graphics
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:55 PM on May 9, 2011


In terms of nation simulators on a purely civic scale (i.e. only the wonky stuff, no armies or diplomacy), there's Democracy 2.

The game lets you set policy and enact laws for your imaginary country, balancing the need to make the populace happy with keeping your party and ideological brethren content. The game will actually model the population as a group of individuals each with their own goals and dreams and you can poll them from time to time to see what they think of you.

The overall slant of your nation is also modeled. For example, you could be elected prime minister in a stereotypically liberal and socialist European republic, or you could find yourself leading a democracy which resembles Utah in political and social views. Trying to be a bleeding heart liberal in Utah while still managing to get re-elected is an interesting challenge.
posted by honestcoyote at 7:58 PM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I wish I remembered my old country's name. I ruled with an iron fist! My people would quail in terror at the return of their long forgotten overlord.
posted by charred husk at 8:30 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


My nation went inactive years ago. It is called Moo Topia. And that, I think, is all you need to know about its citizens and political structure.

And I just restored it.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:32 PM on May 9, 2011


"I just realized that I'm not sure how free my citizens will actually feel when they realize they live in a country named after one person."

Like a Saudi Arabian?
posted by Diablevert at 9:41 PM on May 9, 2011


Does anything else like this exist? I know (and love) old Maxis SimWhatevers and I'm aware of the Civilizations but have no idea how they compare. What else is there, in the genre of Imaginary Country Sims?

There's some games out there. Shadow President and SuperPower and SuperPower 2, are a few I remember. Not imaginary countries but imaginary leaders I guess. Pretty cool, though I played Shadow President again last year and it was not nearly as cool as it was in 93 when I first saw it. Wikipedia has a category of government sims. I played Nation States back in about 04 or so and I remember not liking it at all and abandoning it quickly, I was in college at the time so I might have been too high or too busy to care. Might have.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:11 PM on May 9, 2011


I remember Democracy and Democracy 2 getting pretty good reviews, not free though (but there is a demo). Rock, Paper, Shotgun did a review.
posted by bjrn at 1:37 AM on May 10, 2011


I think I'll invent a country with expansionist plans and massive armed forces. I think I'd clean up pretty quickly.
posted by joannemullen at 2:40 AM on May 10, 2011


Wow. I had totally forgotten about NationStates. But I was able to restore one of my nations: Slumberland, a "Left-Leaning College State."

"Slumberland's national animal is the tailless cat, which frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests, and its currency is the nemo."
posted by litlnemo at 6:57 AM on May 10, 2011


I'm not really seeing the appeal of this. I mean, after the first day, haven't I done pretty much everything there is to be done?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 10:32 AM on May 10, 2011


No, as you get new issues daily, and the decisions you make affect the nation's description as well as the types of new issues you get. You can also join the UN or try to top one of the lists.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:40 AM on May 10, 2011


Diablevert: ""I just realized that I'm not sure how free my citizens will actually feel when they realize they live in a country named after one person."

Like a Saudi Arabian?
"

In terms of models for human rights, that's not exactly the target I'm looking to hit.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:46 AM on May 10, 2011


oh god this is just eve online without graphics
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:55 PM on May 9 [+] [!]


I was thinking it was just like Model UN without the built-in resentment of drawing and having to roleplay the delegation from Malta.
posted by Fezboy! at 2:08 PM on May 10, 2011


All hail the People's Republic of Airstream!
posted by Fezboy! at 2:09 PM on May 10, 2011


*sigh*

"Economy: Imploded"

It learned it from watching me. It learned it from watching me.
posted by brundlefly at 3:17 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was into this for a few months when it came out. Guess I could restore The Republic of Ylum.
I've just started reading Jennifer Government. There aren't many books that make me nostalgic for a game.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:47 PM on May 10, 2011


No, as you get new issues daily, and the decisions you make affect the nation's description as well as the types of new issues you get. You can also join the UN or try to top one of the lists.

Right... but there's a small number of issues, the changes from them, like you said, are essentially meaningless description changes, the UN is workable in model UN roleplay* sense, but essentially meaningless in the context of the game, and the lists seem to be things you can't really control anyway (Best at Basket Weaving)

So... yeah, nice idea, poor execution where what you do is essentially meaningless. I'd like to see this done well though, somewhere.


*First kiss was at The Hague International Model United Nations, so I'm a fan of the concept ;-)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:26 PM on May 10, 2011


This looks like it is going to be a real time-killer on dull days at work. Thanks!
posted by rahulrg at 9:14 PM on May 10, 2011


After a day:

The Republic of Stanistan Bloodless is a tiny, environmentally stunning nation, notable for its complete lack of prisons. Its hard-nosed, hard-working, intelligent population of 7 million hold their civil and political rights very dear, although the wealthy and those in business tend to be viewed with suspicion.

The government -- a sprawling, bureaucracy-choked, corrupt morass -- devotes most of its attentions to Social Welfare, with areas such as Law & Order and Religion & Spirituality receiving almost no funds by comparison. The average income tax rate is 34%. Private enterprise is illegal, but for those in the know there is a slick and highly efficient black market in Gambling.

Citizens can be frequently spotted going about their business stark naked, voting is voluntary, education and welfare spending are on the rise, and young children are regularly seen wagering pocket money at blackjack tables. Crime is relatively low. Stanistan Bloodless's national animal is the Honey Badger, which frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests, and its currency is the Pesito.


1 day 9 hours ago: Stanistan Bloodless was reclassified from "New York Times Democracy" to "Civil Rights Lovefest".

WHOO!
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:21 AM on May 11, 2011


Sadakssotia is a New York Times democracy with a population of 18.1 billion. Listed in the top 1% in many categoris, and in the top 100 in terms of population.
posted by scottymac at 7:47 PM on May 11, 2011


According to a new "Issue", my country is "critically short of blood plasma and various organs"... despite the fact that post-mortem organ donation is mandatory. I'm gonna have to start knocking people off.
posted by brundlefly at 11:12 PM on May 11, 2011


I do like my description, though:
Cars are banned, military funding has been stripped back, the death penalty has been reintroduced, and young children are regularly seen wagering pocket money at blackjack tables. Crime is relatively low, thanks to a well-funded police force and progressive social policies in education and welfare. Maxrennia's national animal is the Clam, which frolics freely in the nation's many lush forests, and its currency is the Clam.
posted by brundlefly at 11:13 PM on May 11, 2011


Somewhere, my nation state is alive. The last time I did anything with it, I moved it into a... region, or whatever a conglomeration of nations was called, full of what I thought were Nazi-state parodies.

Then it became clear they weren't parodies. And I didn't log in again.

Until now, when I remembered its name.
posted by ego at 10:01 AM on May 12, 2011


Following new legislation in Wengeronia, Wengeronia's children are widely acknowledged as the most foul-mouthed in the region.

Well, it's good to be acknowledged for *something* at least.
posted by philipy at 4:46 PM on May 12, 2011


« Older Miami Vice and early '80s musical montages. Did an...  |  The Guardian speaks to suffers... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments