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NationStates Logo.png
NationStates Default Page.png
Screenshot of the NationStates home page
Type of site
Government simulation game, internet forum
Available inEnglish
OwnerMax Barry
Created byMax Barry
RevenueAdvertising, paid premium memberships and encouraged book sales
Users233,306 active players as of 9 January 2022
Launched13 November 2002; 19 years ago (2002-11-13)
Current statusActive

NationStates (formerly Jennifer Government: NationStates) is a multiplayer government simulation browser game created and developed by Max Barry. Based loosely on the novel Jennifer Government,[1] the game was publicly released on 13 November 2002[2] with the site originally founded as an independent vehicle publicising the novel one week before its release.[1] NationStates continues to promote books written by Barry, but has developed to be a sizeable online community, with a large accompanying forum board. Since its release, over 7.3 million user-created nations have been created, with around 233,000 being active as of January 2022.[3]


A chart showing the game's 27 government types

Players begin by setting up their nation through answering a short questionnaire, which determines the type of government it has.[4][5] The gameplay hinges on deciding government policies through "issues", which are presented to the player multiple times each day.[5] The player may choose from a list of options or dismiss the problem. The player's responses may affect the nation's status across three main statistics: political freedom, civil rights, and economy. Based on the nation's main statistics, the nation is assigned to one of 27 government types.[5]

Players can also choose to join the World Assembly, a voluntary body concerned with the drafting and passage of international law. It has two entirely separate chambers: the General Assembly and the Security Council. While the General Assembly is concerned with passing legislation on various topics, the Security Council recognises various nations and regions for good or bad deeds.[6] Players can also be assigned to different regions, which function similarly to a chat room.[7]


In an interview, Max Barry said the influence for the game began with a questionnaire he took: "NationStates was influenced by a little political quiz I did once, where you answer a bunch of multiple-choice questions and have your politics categorised. ... It was fun, but I also wanted to see what kind of country my policies created, and have to deal with the consequences".[8]


Critical reception[edit]

Jay Is Games's Jerrad praised the game stating "the real beauty in this game is that it's accessible on so many levels."[9] In the 2008 book The Video Game Theory Reader 2, Lars Konzack critiqued that it promoted libertarianism but says "open to experimentation and reflection on politics rather than being merely political propaganda. It becomes a philosophical game in which the player is invited to become part of an examination of political ideas. This game takes advantage of the potential in games to truly put the player in control and let him reflect on his own decisions, investigating political theory turned into meaningful game aesthetics."[10][failed verification] In the 2008 book The Art and Science of Interface and Interaction Design, Volume 1, C. Paul said NationStates "is an interesting take on the interplay of freedom and control (and governance without government)".[5]

ProgrammableWeb's Kevin Sundstrom listed NationStates among the 30 New APIs remarking its application programming interface "provides a developer interface for automate game world data collection".[11]


The game attracted a thousand players within two weeks, and had 20,700 by the end of the first year. Barry was surprised by the popularity of the game, and saw its discussion forums developing into an arena for political debate.[4] He was impressed by some of the activity in the forums, relating how "one nation accused another of conducting secret missile tests and posted photos to prove it. That escalated into an international crisis that was only solved by sending in teams of independent weapons inspectors".[1]

Cease and desist[edit]

On 21 January 2008, developer Max Barry received a cease-and-desist letter from the United Nations for unauthorised usage of its name and emblem for the game's fictional organisation.[12] As a result, Barry changed the name of the organisation to "World Assembly".[13]

Forum board[edit]

NationStates has a large and active forum board. The board was hosted from 2004 to 2009 by Jolt, before being self-hosted when Jolt was acquired by OMAC Holdings.[14] There are a variety of categories in which a plethora of topics can be found. As of November 2020, approximately 31 million posts have been made within approximately 400,000 forum threads, with just over 1.41 million users being registered.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c O'Connell, Pamela Licalzi (16 January 2003). "Online Diary". New York Times. p. G3. Archived from the original on 16 July 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  2. ^ Barry, Max (13 November 2004). "NationStates is 2!". NationStates News. Archived from the original on 16 July 2018. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  3. ^ "NationStates | The World". Retrieved 2021-03-21.
  4. ^ a b Goldman, Noah. "A Web Site of Virtual Nations". ABC News. Archived from the original on 7 March 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d Sommerer, Christa; Jain, L. C.; Mignonneau, Laurent (2008). The Art and Science of Interface and Interaction Design. Springer. p. 173. ISBN 978-354079869-9.
  6. ^ "NationStates | Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2020-07-16.
  7. ^ "NationStates | Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2021-03-30.
  8. ^ Ewing, Jody (16 January 2003). "Young author's new book 'Jennifer Government' Headed for Big Screen". Siouxland Weekender. Archived from the original on 22 September 2020. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  9. ^ Jerrad (13 October 2009). "NationStates - Walkthrough, Tips, Review". Jay Is Games. Archived from the original on 2 April 2020. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  10. ^ Perron, Bernard; Wolf, Mark J.P., eds. (2008). The Video Game Theory Reader 2. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. pp. 43–44. ISBN 978-3-540-79869-9.
  11. ^ Sundstrom, Kevin (10 March 2013). "30 New APIs: Intercom, EasyPost, and Jorum". ProgrammableWeb. Archived from the original on 1 March 2018. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  12. ^ Andrei, Terekhov (21 January 2008). "Notice of cease and desist" (PDF). NationStates. United Nations. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  13. ^ Max, Barry (2 April 2008). "The United Nations vs Me". Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  14. ^ Barry, Max. "NationStates | News". NationStates. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  15. ^ "NationStates • View topic - Significant Forum Events". Archived from the original on 13 November 2020. Retrieved 2020-10-21.
  16. ^ "NationStates • Index page". Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-13.

External links[edit]