Sunday, January 27, 2008

NationStates: Your Own Little Country

Over the break, without the benefit of a constant social life, I was quite bored. Fortunately, a friend recommended a great little text-based game, NationStates. Founded in 2002 (per their change log), the site gives each user their own (free) private empire which they may govern as they please. NationStates is unlike other simulations because it gives the ruler issues to decide on instead of a complex option-setting mode. The game (which you really can't win or lose) is challenging, especially if you have a certain type of society in mind, because your choices aren't always clear cut and sometimes the lesser of two evils will still send your country into a tailspin.

I've built up a fairly good-sized nation (about the size of the US at the time of this posting) and the home screen is shown below:
NationStates Home Screen
I hope you like my snappy name (the currency is the "click" to represent traffic on a site...I thought it was funny anyway). The description is always a direct representation of the choices the ruler makes for each issue they are presented.

Here is the stats bar:
NationStates Stats Bar
I feel proud that as a self-described moderate, my country is currently an "Inoffensive Centrist Democracy." From time to time I find it slipping into a full blow Socialist country, but I can always count on a few Libertarian decisions to bring it back into the middle and lower the taxes to boot.

NationStates Nav BarOnce you have established a country, you may join a region, of which there are many. Some regions are simply fun role-playing groups and others are tightly organized multi-national organizations. The point of the latter is to give that region power in the United Nations. The UN is an international body which decides policies that all member nations must obey. I haven't really gotten into that part of the game thus far because I use it mostly as a thought experiment, but for some, the politics is what it's all about. All these things, along with the settings can be controlled by the sidebar on the left.

When you're just starting out, the game will be slow to adapt to your views. I suggest that you go into settings and have it give you two issues a day, otherwise it will take you weeks to develop anything. Beyond that, I have no more's your nation, make it your own.

P. S. - Oh and a commenter recently asked what program I use to create my screenshots. The app is called WinSnap and it's completely free (I love it). Edit: Looks like they've made it shareware :(

All screenshots come from my account on

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The content of this page is completely the creation and opinion of James Rogers. He is affiliated with Connect Mason and formerly Broadside Online but the relationship only governs republication, not content.

Further, in the interest of full disclosure, this author holds minor financial investments in Apple, Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices.