Twenty years and eight million nations later
November 22, 2022 12:17 PM   Subscribe

NationStates is a free multiplayer political simulation game founded by author Max Barry back in 2002. Previously. Previouslier. Ten days ago, the game turned 20 years old!

As the author says:
For perspective, the web itself is only 33. Here are some things that didn't exist when NationStates launched: MySpace, Digg, World of Warcraft, Facebook, XBox Live, iTunes, Skype, Firefox, Chrome, iPhones, Reddit, Twitter, Wordpress.
Sites that do things, interactive sites, like this one, are hard to keep alive. They have so many ways to die.
I made a site where you could create a nation and talk to people. The community did everything else, i.e. turned that into something interesting, with political intrigue, relationships, lore, rules; basically the vast majority of what makes NationStates worth your time.
posted by gakiko (20 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
The "20 years old text-based website with a great community" reminded me of something...
posted by gakiko at 12:23 PM on November 22 [7 favorites]

Oh wow. turtlegirl and I were just talking about this last month. I just tried to see if I could find my login or if there was a way to recover it. No such luck.
posted by terrapin at 12:24 PM on November 22

Man, NationStates was my favorite site hands-down in high school! What a delight that it's still around.

It also introduced me to Max Barry himself, who is a weirdly gifted and multifaceted writer. I was obsessed with his early books Syrup and Company—I've read both of them so many times I've lost count—and Jennifer Government, which NationStates emerged from, was a fun depiction of "1984 but capitalism" with a delightfully-named pair of villains, John Nike and John Nike.

Recently I picked up his most recent book, The 22 Murders of Madison May, and had a blast with that one too. If you're ever looking for breezy, fun reads with a surprising amount of substance, give him a go.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 12:31 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]

another login lost in time, like tears in rain, but fond memories of creating increasingly edgy dystopias to put off doing my homework.
posted by inire at 1:12 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

I was on there in the beginning. All I remember is that my flag had a toilet on it.
posted by Splunge at 1:28 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

Woah! I found my old nation in the boneyard with last activity 17 years 300 days ago, nearly half a lifetime ago, with an embarrassing name to match...
posted by wjt at 1:30 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]

I've had a nation there for... wow, more than 15 years! because I enjoy occasionally seeing where the voting on issues takes the nation... But if you take a look at the forums, especially role-playing ones, and the NationStates' UN-equivalent, the level of interaction and commitment and effort is absolutely insane. It's like that joke where the leftovers forgotten in the fridge become a whole civilization of advanced life forms. I don't think Barry could have ever imagined something like this.
posted by gakiko at 1:52 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]

Thanks for linking to the boneyard wjt - found my old nation (last activity 2009) too.
posted by Paragon at 2:18 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

Max Barry's Company is ... utterly AMAZING if you've ever worked in a white-collar job. It's very much like the world of Severance.

And Lexicon is also truly worth checking out.
posted by MollyRealized at 3:11 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]

Looks like my first nation went defunct 18 and a half years ago. There's also one called Mulp from 3 years ago, but I don't think that was me.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:12 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

I used to be very involved, and it was fun.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:38 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

I logged in, reactivated my nation, and immediately got overwhelmed. It was a lot of fun back in the day.

I don't think Barry could have ever imagined something like this.
It truly speaks to his brilliance that an offshoot of Jennifer Government has lasted this long.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:41 PM on November 22 [4 favorites]

I suspect I would have big problems logging in. I quit because I do everything on a phone now. Don’t use the same email… itd.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:49 PM on November 22

Company is almost literally Severance in book form, yeah. It's like if Dilbert was also a fully-formed social critique. It's also very, very funny.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 3:57 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

I spent a few months in 2003/2004 debating racists on the forums before I wised up and bounced. No idea if they've fixed their moderation since.
posted by mscibing at 5:00 AM on November 23

Oh. Wow. I forgot all about NationStates! I remember playing it a bunch when it came out and if you had asked me about it before this post, I would have remembered the idea but never the name. Thanks for sharing! Now I'm wondering if I should play it again or just leave it in the bargain bin of dusty presh mems.
posted by Godspeed.You!Black.Emperor.Penguin at 7:58 AM on November 23

I remember reading Jennifer Government and being introduced to NationStates that way. I didn't quite get what was going on so I never played it, but it's amazing to see that it's still active two decades later.

Can also recommend Company, and I guess the comments about it here give me additional reasons to watch Severance eventually.
posted by chrominance at 1:30 PM on November 23

I just created bendystan!

It’s quite possible I already had a nation I made in one of the previouslies. I have Jennifer Government on my shelf and will read it with this in mind.
posted by bendy at 5:03 PM on November 23

Lexicon is the bomb. One of the best. : ) Another of his recent books, venturing into sci-fi, is Providence, which is a bit reminiscent of Peter Watt's Blindsight.
posted by bitterkitten at 8:09 PM on November 23

Wow, I haven't thought about NationStates in forever. Good for them that it's still going!
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:02 AM on November 24

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