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This article is about the computer game. For the concept, see nation state.
NationStates Logo2.png
Web address
Commercial? Yes
Type of site
Government simulation game
Registration Yes
Owner Max Barry
Created by Max Barry
Launched 13 November 2002
Revenue From advertising, paid premium memberships and encouraged book sales
Alexa rank
negative increase 18,324 (June 2015)[1]
Current status Active

NationStates is a multiplayer government simulation browser game. It was created by Max Barry and was publicly released on 13 November 2002,[2] based loosely on his novel Jennifer Government.[3] Barry originally founded the site as an independent vehicle publicizing the book one week before its release.[3] The site continues to promote books written by Barry.


The Australian Aboriginal Flag
The Australian Aboriginal Flag is the default flag in NationStates.

Players set up their nation by answering a short questionnaire about their intentions for its economy, civil rights and political freedoms,[4] and giving it a name,[5] a national animal, a currency and an official motto.[4] The player's response to the initial questionnaire defines the type of government they are running.[6] Each new nation appears in one of five main game regions located in the NationStates version of the Pacific Ocean (The, East, West, North, and South Pacific), but nations are able to move to other regions, or create their own. Nations that remain inactive and are resurrected are put into three "sinker" regions called Osiris, Balder, and Lazarus, all named after characters that purportedly "rose from the dead".

Gameplay hinges on deciding government policies: twice a day the player is presented with an automatically assigned "issue",[6] such as choosing whether to allow a right-wing protest march, or dealing with food shortages in their country.[4] The player chooses a government stance from a list of options, or may elect to dismiss the problem. Each action or inaction affects the prosperity of the player's country, and may have unforeseen effects. For instance, granting greater political freedom will lead to more civil unrest.[4] Some issues are written by the game's developers, while others are submitted by players. For the first 30 days of a nation's existence, only game-created issues can be answered, but after that period any approved issue can be answered. [6] The player's responses to issues affect the nation's status in three main factors: the level of Political Freedoms and Civil Rights and the strength of the Economy.[6]

A chart showing the game's 27 government types

Based on the nation's personal, economic and political freedoms, the nation is assigned to one of 27 government types,[6] from Anarchy, to Inoffensive Centrist Democracy, to Psychotic Dictatorship. Although there is no way of "winning" the game, daily "World Census reports" are compiled for each region and the entire world, ranking nations on anything from economic strength to the most liberal public nudity laws.[6]

Outside the basic technical parameters of nation play, players can also move freely between regions, "take over" opposing regions by flooding them with foreign nations (a popular practice also called "raiding"), interact on the game's chat boards, vote on resolutions at the "World Assembly" (which affect member nations' stats much the same way issues do), and chat and/or roleplay their countries on the official game forums. Many of the regions also have separate regional forums that concern regional politics, fairs, etc.

Users can download "NationStates ++", or "NS++", an open-source browser extension that enhances the gameplay experience.


The game attracted a thousand nations within two weeks, and had 20,700 by the end of the first year.[4] 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."[3]

As of the 20th of June 2015, NationStates has around 136,000 nations.

United Nations incident[edit]

On April Fools' Day 2008, Barry announced that he had received an email from the United Nations containing a cease and desist order for using the official UN and its logo without permission as the international ruling body. In response, Barry removed the UN from his game and created a new ruling body called the World Assembly. Many players assumed this was another of the game's April Fools' jokes, but when the WA lasted beyond April 1, it was revealed that the World Assembly was in fact, not a joke.[7] The WA endures to this day on the NationStates site.

NationStates 2[edit]

In 2008, OMAC Industries purchased Jolt Gaming and announced plans for a "big release" sequel that summer, NationStates 2.[8] In February 2009, Max Barry announced that NationStates was leaving the OMAC Industries servers and game system, and that the game "doesn't have terribly much to do with [NationStates 2] any more."[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ History, accessdate: 10 April 2014
  3. ^ a b c O'Connell, Pamela Licalzi (16 January 2003). "ONLINE DIARY". The New York Times. p. 3. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Goldman, Noah. "A Web Site of Virtual Nations". ABC News. Retrieved 10 April 2014. 
  5. ^ "Virtual nations take control over the cyber world - Economic Times". The Economic Times. 12 September 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Christa Sommerer, L. C. Jain, Laurent Mignonneau (2008). The Art and Science of Interface and Interaction Design. Springer. p. 173. ISBN 354079869-2. 
  7. ^ The United Nations vs Me, retrieved 17 May 2014.
  8. ^ Phil Elliott (2008-06-18). "OMAC Industries acquires Jolt Online Gaming | GamesIndustry International". Retrieved 2013-01-06. 
  9. ^ Barry, Max (2009-02-25). "We're indy, baby". Retrieved 2009-04-02. 

External links[edit]