NationStates (officially Jennifer Government: NationStates) is a free, web-based nation simulation game. It was created by Max Barry in late 2002 as a HTML-based diplomatic role-playing community to promote his novel Jennifer Government. Though it was originally intended to be a promotional piece, its connection is somewhat tenuous, not extending far beyond the name.
While chiefly an international role-playing community, each player may create one or more nations which are given personality based on a series of political, social, and economic "issues," with the player's responses to these issues shaping the individual political, social, and economic rights and conditions of their nation.
Nations are grouped into regions. All players begin in one of five "feeder" regions, each a geographical area of the "Pacific Ocean." Players can choose to remain in these official regions, or create and join their own regions, controlled by an elected regional World Assembly delegate. Player-made regions are usually organized around a similar theme, be it a similar government style or real life relationship and can number from a single nation to hundreds.
Soon after its inception, NationStates acquired a strong and dedicated player base. The NationStates Forums plays host to a wide range of text-based role play to depict diplomacy, warfare, trade, etc., though this has no effect on nations. In an effort to connect the role-playing to the world representation, the community invented regional invasions (a mass move by organized groups to regions in order to gain the delegation) and crashing (essentially the same process but with the goal of ejecting the region's original occupants) fairly early in the game's history.
This strong emphasis on the diplomacy and role-playing is a large part of the gaming experience of NationStates and is part of what sets NationStates apart from more quantitative nation simulators such as Cyber Nations.
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