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Rating: 4.7/5 (117 votes)
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JerradNationStatesWe've been in charge of running a country during a national crisis in Pandemic: American Swine Flu. We've led the nation to world conquest in Mastermind: World Conqueror. But have you ever wondered what goes on during the downtime? In-between the diseases and the hostile takeovers, everyday decisions still need to be made. NationStates is a massively multiplayer online game by author Max Barry that puts you in charge of your own fledgling nation to create and shape how you see fit.

To get started on your path to becoming an imaginary superpower, you'll need to create your nation. You will be prompted to customize different aspects, such as your flag, history, and national animal. These options are superficial only, but the next page will asks you for your opinions concerning various political, social, and economic issues. These will determine the initial status of your nation, although it will change shortly after you start playing.

Changes to your nation come about through issues presented to you every day. You'll be presented with a problem with several options, and whichever one you choose will become national law. You will initially receive one issue per day, but you can bump that up to two in the account settings. As you make choices the various aspects of your country will change and the type of government you run will shift, going anywhere from "anarchy" to "psychotic dictatorship". There are probably some other, reasonable options in between, but I never discovered them. Where would the fun be in that?

You can choose to stay small, influencing just your country, or you can step up to the next level and join with other nations in a group known as a region, where you can make deals or compete for power. You can also join the World Assembly, a thinly-veiled version of the United Nations, to write or vote on resolutions that will affect all participating nations. The forums have as much discussion on current events (in-game and otherwise) as any real-world political site you may find, so if you're up for a good debate, you'll always be able to find one.

nationstates2.gifAnalysis: The real beauty in this game is that it's accessible on so many levels. If you want to be part of the multiplayer aspect, you can join an existing region or create your own. If you'd rather keep to yourself and watch the outcome of the choices you make, that's an option too. Since there is no way to "win", per se, there's freedom in how you run your internal affairs, as well. You can make decisions that reflect your own political views and see which direction that takes the country, or you can be like me and see how difficult you can make life for your citizens. They would probably recommend the former, if I allowed them freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, with a maximum of two issues per day, if you're not participating in world affairs, gameplay will be over fairly quickly. Your decisions can be made in minutes, then you won't have much to do until the next time you log in. That's not to say that the game is any less fun that way; on the contrary, it's very satisfying being able to decide the fate of a nation while having your morning coffee, then be free to go on with the rest of your day. But for people who crave more, the single-player experience might not provide the hours of entertainment you may be looking for. And yes, in my country, it is legal to end your sentences in prepositions.

The philosophical implications of NationStates are staggering. Although they are often humorous and exaggerated, the issues that are addressed are usually real concerns for governments all over the world. The decisions you make may seem like a good idea at the time, but there could be consequences that you never expected. More than once I have made a choice that seemed reasonable, only to rethink my position when I saw the results. I now realize that I am perhaps not the best option to rule the world, after all. Not yet, anyway. Let me play around with NationStates a little more, then we'll see.

It's worth noting that this game is inspired by the novel Jennifer Government by Max Barry. In that sense, it could almost be considered an advergame, as it was created by the author in order to tie in with his book. Still, it doesn't feel like it's trying to promote anything. There are links to the Mr. Barry's website throughout the game, but there is never any real effort to sell you anything. It comes across as more of a companion to the novel. Of course, this could be a marketing scheme on the author's part to make me feel like buying the book was my idea, but if it is, it worked. I will receive my copy in 3-5 business days. Touché, Mr. Barry!

If you're interested in politics and what makes a country run, or if you just want to oppress the lower class, NationStates is right up your alley.

Play NationStates


Dooreatoe October 13, 2009 8:58 PM

Oh my, I haven't played this game in many years! It's cool to see it still going strong.

Anonymous October 13, 2009 9:33 PM

We should all form a Region and move there. Think about it- the vast economic, political and military power of JayIsGames, concentrated into one unified front! No one will be able to oppose us! The world will be ours!!!!


Excuse me.


As long as I can get the country into a police state (unlike the Democracy II/White House, and ad "promised" it, though), I'm cool. Oh, and raging total war.

Disclaimer: Though I enjoy subjecting simuated citizens to totalitarian rule, I deplore its practice in real-life. Disclaimer end.

In simple words, a police state option equals easy, fun, and non-traditional gameplay. It also makes the engine seem more open ended than, obviously, a democracy simulator.

I feel that I'm ranting, though, because the Democracy II game "promised" different government styles and I couldn't get anything but the usual, linear try-to-get-reelected headache. I, of course, failed horribly in that regard. I think this game, though, is different.

Again, sorry for the rant.


It's been so long since I played this game... And such an old game it is. It was fun, though - I forgot at one point the name of my nation, and thus I couldn't log in anymore. I guess everyone there died. Sucks for them...

But seriously, if I had tons of free time, I'd totally start playing again. I waste enough time as it is, though.


Oh man, I loved this game! Haven't played it in years though...all my friends in college had a region and we had a blast with it. They used to be really nice about reinstating your country after a long absence with just an e-mail, so for those who used to play, you may not have to start over.

Also, please buy/read Jennifer Government. It is seriously a great book and one that I've read many times over. Yes, I wanted to read it after playing NationStates, and got it from the library...but it wasn't too long before I wanted to read it again and purchased my own copy. Extremely interesting concept for a book.


Wow. It's interesting to see that not only is this game still around, it seems to be pretty active. I had a nation on there at one point in the distant past...


I just got my country up and running a few months ago after a couple of year's break. If you used to play, they can resurrect your nation :)


D: If only I could remember what my nation was called, back in the day. I used to enjoy this game.


This game seems brilliant, I'm set on creating the most Psychotic government ever!
If you ever create a JIG region, count me in.


Good book, good game - although I'm more inclined to refer to it as a government sim than a game.
It's quite thought-provoking when you see lists of options presented to you and you realise you even have the option of ignoring it until it goes away...
I especially like the fact that the options for an issue aren't ever as clear cut as they may seem. Once you choose a particular path, you may come back the next day to find that your choice has led in a direction you didn't expect and may not want it to.
And, just like real life, you can't go back. There's no 'undo' on this game.


I also played this game a while back and after seeing it here today I managed to renew my old country....however..in the review it say you can have a max of two issues a day? I have five to deal with every day...not sure if they changed it since I was last on..but I think the max is five.


I've created The Free Land of Njork. Our national currency is the mangoper, and our national animal is the garden gnome.


Wow--I'm pretty amazed that this is still running, given it *was* originally mainly and advergame. I thought it had shut down a long time ago, after the book had come out. It's a nifty little thing, IIRC, and only took maybe a couple of minutes to do your 'daily turn'.

Anonymous October 15, 2009 6:20 AM

I used to play this probably more than 5yrs ago! Wow it's been around forever.


We now have a region! I founded it! Come visit JIGtopia, currently populated by my own Mosquitostan! Make our region the biggest, coolest, most rebellious, most *anything* region on the block!


Come join us in the JIGtopia we must grow!


I made an account. I'm the Community of Decisive.
I like the concept, but I wish that there were more to do then address a couple issues each day.


True Duppy, but I think that this game will get more complex and more interesting as time passes and your country becomes more involved in the affairs of the world. Also do some exploring and find out what things in the game do such as the World assembly.

P.S. My country is The Most Serene Republic of Illoah.


Come on people! Join JIGtopia! Three nations is not enough. We have cookies!


The Free Land of Popodamia and its compassionate people pride themselves for having joined JIGtopia !

Anonymous October 16, 2009 5:30 PM

Nice to see this featured on here. Well spotted, JIG.


Excellent game, can be quite funny when what it states in your description contradicts current events. Though a few more issues per day could be more interesting...


Sweet! I had completely forgotten about this game. Lucky for me they appear to retain nations indefinitely, so I have just resurrected a 2 billion strong nation and moved into JIGtopia! I am truly surprised that this is still around...


Seems to be, JIGtopia is becoming dead; unless some new blood from this domain join, it won't last long...


When it says a certain name is "reserved for a former nation", does it mean former (in-game) or a real (or fictitious) nation?


Sorry to double-post, but I'm asking because no names are working for me (except for ridiculous stuff like the Republic of Hyruleskldzfjadsklfj), which I'll never remember.


Never mind!


Well, I have a nation in nationstates named "The Constitutional Monarchy of Paterosian Riveria, a tiny yet devout nation of 8 million people.

wecarelittle January 9, 2013 12:17 PM

So, the game allows you to create multiple nations, as long as only one is a member of the WA at a time.

Which is all fine and dandy, however, what the same FAQ page do not inform you about, period, is that if you move all these nations into the 'same' region it counts as spamming and all your nations will get deleted for that.

How this works, is, if a nation enters a region, there is an automatic programmed update (you cannot chose) on that region's notice board stating your nation's arrival.

So i moved all my nation into a region - and lost them all at once as a mod deleted them without warning.

I queried it and the reply was that the nations were deleted due to breaking a rule called puppet flooding. The term for when lots of nations enter a region and the resulting automatic notification update stating each's arrival.

I thanked the mod for notifying me by deleting everything and asked that they kindly post all these rules in the FAQ pages where on learns the game so it can help everybody from encountering the same situation - who knows what someone might 'click' and end up getting deleted without as much as a warning.


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