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NationStates is a browser-based multiplayer nation simulation game. It presents players with political decisions to make, termed ‘issues’, and allows players to shape their country as they want to. There is also a large forum community, where can players interact and role-play. The site hosts over 3.3 million nations, with around 100,000 active at any time.
NationStates was founded in 2002 by author Max Barry. It is an offshoot of his 2003 novel Jennifer Government, but contains none of the novel’s plot or characters. Since its launch, it has had a large forum community. The game itself is fairly simple and is text-based, so most of the community interaction and role-playing occurs on the NationStates forum. In addition, many “satellite” sites have been created by players, to further consolidate their communities – called regions in-game.
Players are faced with issues once or twice a day; these are political questions (regarding things like the death penalty or economic regulation) with multiple choice answers. Depending on the answers chosen, the player can shape their country into anything from a dictatorship to an anarchist state. Broadly speaking, the choices made will rank the player’s nation on political, personal, and economic freedom.
Players are also asked to join a region when starting the game, to facilitate their incorporation of their nation into the game, and to introduce them to the community. There is also a supranational organization called the World Assembly, similar in function to the United Nations, through which international issues can be addressed. Players can choose to abide by World Assembly decisions, or can invade other countries as they see fit. Such community-based interaction is done in the forums.
As the game is almost entirely text-based, it has inspired a large amount of fan art and graphics, especially flags and maps. Each regional community will typically have one or two members who are designated regional cartographers, and players often produce maps of their specific countries. Some “satellite” sites also have wikis, where players can create pages for their nations, and really work on developing their nations’ histories and identities.
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